Luke 12:58
When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.
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(58) When thou goest with thine adversary. . . .—Better, with all the MSS., For as thou goest. . . . The conjunction would seem to have been omitted by the translators because they did not see the sequence of thought implied in it. There is, indeed, something at first strangely abrupt in this reproduction of what had appeared in the Sermon on the Mount as part of our Lord’s teaching as to the true meaning of the command “Thou shalt not kill.” (See Note on Matthew 5:25.) There the words are spoken at once of earthly adversaries and magistrates and of the great Judge of all. Is it so in this place also? Is this the “just judgment” to which Luke 12:57 referred, in contrast with the prevailing bitterness and hardness of men in the quarrels brought on chiefly by their greed of gain? The answer to the question is found in accepting, as before, both the literal meaning and that of which it becomes a parable, with, perhaps, a greater stress than before on the spiritual aspect of the words. Our Lord is speaking to the people; there has been no immediate reference, as before, to the Sixth Commandment. His teaching has taken a wider range, and the old words, as it were, come back, with every point of the parable brought into full clearness. The “adversary” is the Law that accuses them (John 5:45); the judge is none other than the Judge of all the earth; and then all follows in due order as before.

Luke 12:58-59. When thou goest with thine adversary, &c. — The evils which befall obstinate sinners, he here illustrates by the punishment which, in ordinary cases, is inflicted upon the man who obstinately refuses to make compensation for the injuries he has done; but, even while his adversary is haling him to the judge, he will not agree the matter with him. He is therefore brought by force to the bar. The judge condemns him. The officer seizes him. He is cast into prison, and lies there till he has paid the very last mite. See on Matthew 5:25-26. Thus, as if Christ had said, If you persist to be regardless of the proposals of God’s mercy while the day of life and grace continues, nothing is to be expected from the tribunal of his justice but a severe sentence, which will end in everlasting confinement and punishment. Reader, may we learn from these warnings of our Lord to be so wise at all times as to discern the evidences, and comply with the purposes, of the gospel; otherwise our knowledge in natural things, should it extend not only to the most common, but to the most curious appearances on the face of the earth or the heavens, will turn to no other account but to shame and condemn us. And if we have any reasons to fear that through our impenitence, the blessed God is still an adversary to us, let us make it our first care, by an humble submission of soul to him, and obedient faith in Christ and his gospel, to seek that reconciliation with him which will prevent that strict scrutiny of his justice, and that sentence of his wrath, which would otherwise plunge us into endless ruin and misery; for when could we pretend to have paid the last farthing of this debt of ten thousand talents which we have been daily contracting, and which is charged to our account in the book of his remembrance?

12:54-59 Christ would have the people to be as wise in the concerns of their souls as they are in outward affairs. Let them hasten to obtain peace with God before it is too late. If any man has found that God has set himself against him concerning his sins, let him apply to him as God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. While we are alive, we are in the way, and now is our time.See the notes at Matthew 5:25-26. 58. When thou goest, &c.—(See on [1654]Mt 5:25, 26). The urgency of the case with them, and the necessity, for their own safety, of immediate decision, was the object of these striking words. See Poole on "Luke 12:57"

When thou goest with thine adversary,.... The creditor, as the Persic version, and who is the prosecutor, that has commenced a suit of law against another, in order to obtain his right: for Christ is here speaking of a bad man, that will not pay his just debts, so that his creditor is obliged to prosecute him, and have him to the

magistrate; ruler, or prince; the Nasi, or prince of the sanhedrim, who sat as judge there: as thou art in the way; going along with the creditor, or prosecutor, to the court of judicature;

give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him. The Persic version renders it, "give him the money"; and the Arabic version, "give what thou owest"; and the Syriac version, "give the gain"; or pay the interest, about which the dispute is, and so escape out of his hands; lest when the matter is brought into court, sentence should be given, to pay both interest and principal, with all costs and charges; or however, make up matters with him, satisfy him in some way or other, before things are brought to an extremity:

lest he hale thee to the judge; the same that is called the magistrate, or prince before, that sits chief upon the bench, hears and tries causes, and passes sentence:

and the judge deliver thee to the officer: who upon hearing the matter in difference, and giving the cause against the defendant, and for the prosecutor, delivers the debtor into the hands of a proper officer, in order to commit him to prison: the word rendered "officer", signifies an exactor of debts, or fines, and was one that obliged such as were cast, to do what the judge appointed to be done: in the Septuagint on Isaiah 3:12 it answers to an "oppressor"; and such men were wont to use rigour, to bring persons to the payment of their debts, or fines:

and the officer cast thee into prison; which he had power to do, when committed into his hands by the judge, in case the sentence pronounced was not immediately complied with; See Gill on Matthew 5:25.

When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the {o} officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.

(o) To him that has to demand and gather the fines from those who were fined at the discretion of the court, people who had wrongly troubled men: moreover, the magistrate's officers make those who are condemned pay what they owe, yea and often if they are obstinate, they not only take the fine, but also imprison them.

Luke 12:58. ὡς γὰρ: introducing a legal scene from natural life to illustrate a similar situation in the moral world. It is implied that if they had the necessary moral discernment they would see that a judgment day was at hand, and understand that the duty of the hour was to come to terms with their adversary by timely repentance. That is hew they would all act if it were an ordinary case of debtor and creditor.—δὸς ἐργασίαν (phrase here only): usually interpreted give diligence, give thine endeavour = da operam, a Latinism. Theophylact renders it: give interest (of the sum owed); Hofmann, offer work, labour, in place of money.—κατασύρῃ (here only in N.T.), lest he drag thee to the judge, stronger than Mt.’s παραδῷ (Luke 5:25), realistic and not exaggerated.—τῷ πράκτορι, the man whose business it was to collect the debts after the judge had decreed payment, or to put the debtor in prison till the debt was paid. Kypke defines πράκτορες: “exactores qui mulctas violatorum legum a judice irrogatas exigunt,” citing an instance of its use from Demosthenes.

58. When thou goest] Rather, For as thou goest. Our translators omitted the “for” probably because they could not see the connexion. It seems however to be this. ‘For this is your clear duty,—to reconcile yourselves with God, as you would with one whom you had alienated, before the otherwise inevitable consequences ensue.’

with thine adversary] This is a parable. If you had wronged a man it would be obviously wise to avert the consequences of your wrongdoing before it became too late. Even so must you act towards God. To press the details is obviously false theology. “Theologia parabolica non est argumentativa.” Here again St Matthew quotes the parable in a slightly different connexion (Luke 5:25-26) to teach that love and forgiveness to man are an indispensable condition of forgiveness from God.

give diligence] A curious Latinism, da operam.

to the officer
] i.e. the jailor, literally the exactor (πράκτορι). “God is here shadowed forth as at once the adversary, the judge, and the officer; the first by His holiness, the second by His justice, the third by His power.” Godet.

Verses 58, 59. - When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite. And then the Master passed into one of those parable illustrations with which his hearers were now familiar, and which in a homely way taught the crowd the same grave truth which he had been dwelling upon - the impending terrible judgment which was coming on the people. The lesson, "be reconciled to God while it is yet time," is, of course, applicable to all lives, precarious and hanging seemingly on a thread as they all are, but it was especially spoken to that generation in view of the awful ruin which he knew was so soon to fall on every Jewish home. The genera] meaning of the parable illustration was obvious; no hearer could fail to understand the Lord's meaning. It is before arriving at the judgment-seat that you must be reconciled, with the one who accuses you, otherwise it will be too late, and nothing would remain for the guilty accused but the eternal prison-house. At that moment, when the Master was speaking, individual or nation might have turned to the Lord and lived. There was no time, however, for hesitation. The sands in the hour-glass, which marked the duration of God's longsuffering with Israel, were just running out. Theologians in different ages and of varied schools have made much of the concluding sentence (ver. 59). Roman Catholic divines see in it a strong argument in favor of the doctrine of purgatory, arguing that after death condemnation would be followed by liberation, when a certain payment had been made by the guilty soul; strange ways of paying this debt by means of others we know have been devised by the school of divines who teach this doctrine of purgatory. But the Lord's words here are terribly plain, and utterly exclude any payment of the debt of the soul by others. The Master emphatically says, "till thou hast paid the very last mite." The advocate who pleads for universal redemption, and shrinks from a punishment to the duration of which he can see no term, thinks that in the words, "till thou hast paid," he can discern the germ at least of eternal hope. But the impenetrable veil which hangs between us and the endless hereafter prevents us, surely, from even suggesting that any suffering which the soul may endure in the unseen world will ever pay "the very last mite," and so lead to pardon and peace.

Luke 12:58When thou goest (ὡς γὰρ ὑπάγεις)

The A. V. does not translate γὰρ, for. Rev., correctly, for as thou art going. Their own judgment should show them the necessity of repentance toward God; and this duty is urged under the figure of a debtor who meets his creditor in the way, and whose best policy it is to make terms on the spot.

As thou art in the way

Emphatic, standing first in the Greek order: "On the way give diligence."

Hale (κατασύρῃ)

Drag. Compare haul. Only here in New Testament.

Officer (κράκτορι)

From πράσσω, to effect or accomplish ; to bring things to an issue, and hence to exact. The name praktor was given at Athens to an officer charged with the collection of taxes; hence an exactor, as Rev., in margin. Only here in New Testament.

Mite (λεπτὸν)

See on Mark 12:42.

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