Luke 3:11
He answers and said to them, He that has two coats, let him impart to him that has none; and he that has meat, let him do likewise.
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(11) He that hath two coats.—The remedy, in this case, was simple and practical. Selfishness was the root of evil. It was to be conquered not by religious emotions only, but by acts of unselfishness.

He that hath meat.—The Greek noun is plural, and includes all forms of food.

3:1-14 The scope and design of John's ministry were, to bring the people from their sins, and to their Saviour. He came preaching, not a sect, or party, but a profession; the sign or ceremony was washing with water. By the words here used John preached the necessity of repentance, in order to the remission of sins, and that the baptism of water was an outward sign of that inward cleansing and renewal of heart, which attend, or are the effects of true repentance, as well as a profession of it. Here is the fulfilling of the Scriptures, Isa 40:3, in the ministry of John. When way is made for the gospel into the heart, by taking down high thoughts, and bringing them into obedience to Christ, by levelling the soul, and removing all that hinders us in the way of Christ and his grace, then preparation is made to welcome the salvation of God. Here are general warnings and exhortations which John gave. The guilty, corrupted race of mankind is become a generation of vipers; hateful to God, and hating one another. There is no way of fleeing from the wrath to come, but by repentance; and by the change of our way the change of our mind must be shown. If we are not really holy, both in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and his church, will stand us in no stead at all; the sorer will our destruction be, if we do not bring forth fruits meet for repentance. John the Baptist gave instructions to several sorts of persons. Those that profess and promise repentance, must show it by reformation, according to their places and conditions. The gospel requires mercy, not sacrifice; and its design is, to engage us to do all the good we can, and to be just to all men. And the same principle which leads men to forego unjust gain, leads to restore that which is gained by wrong. John tells the soldiers their duty. Men should be cautioned against the temptations of their employments. These answers declared the present duty of the inquirers, and at once formed a test of their sincerity. As none can or will accept Christ's salvation without true repentance, so the evidence and effects of this repentance are here marked out.He that hath two coats ... - Or, in other words, aid the poor according to your ability; be benevolent, and you will thus show that your repentance is genuine. It is remarkable that one of the "first" demands of religion is to do good, and it is in this way that it may be shown that the repentance is not feigned. For.

1. The "nature" of religion is to do good.

2. This requires self-denial, and none will deny themselves who are not attached to God. And,

3. This is to imitate Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor.

Coats - See the notes at Matthew 5:40.

Meat - Provision of any kind.

11. two coats—directed against the reigning avarice. (Also see on [1549]Mt 3:10.) See Poole on "Luke 3:10" He answereth and saith unto them,.... By telling them what they should do; and he does not put them upon ceremonial observances, nor severe exercises of religion, nor even the duties of the first table of the law, and others of the second, though necessary to be done; but upon acts of beneficence and kindness, to fellow creatures in distress; and are what may be called love of our neighbour, and which involves the love of God, and so the whole law; for the one cannot be rightly exercised without the other:

he that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; not both of them, but one of them: a man is not obliged to go naked himself, in order to clothe another; and so the Persic and Ethiopic versions read, "let him give one to him that has not"; that has not a garment to wear. This is not to be understood strictly and literally, that a man is obliged to give one of his coats, if he has more than one, to a person in want of clothing; it will be sufficient to answer the intent of this exhortation, if he supplies his want another way, by furnishing him with money to buy one: the meaning is, that persons according to their abilities, and of what they can spare, should communicate to those that are in distress: much less is it to be concluded from hence, that it is not lawful for a man to have more coats than one:

and he that hath meat, or meats,

let him do likewise; that is, he that has a sufficiency of food, and more than enough for himself and family, let him give it freely and cheerfully to the poor and needy, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased: and when such acts of kindness are done in faith, from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God, they are the fruits of grace, and such as are meet for repentance, and show it to be genuine. John instances in these two articles, food and raiment, as containing the necessaries of human life, and including every thing, by which one may be serviceable to another.

He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
Luke 3:11. δύο χ.: two, one to spare, not necessarily two on the person, one enough; severely simple ideas of life. The χιτὼν was the under garment, vide on Matthew 5:40.—βρώματα: the plural should perhaps not be emphasised as if implying variety and abundance (τὰ περισσεύοντα, Grotius). The counsel is: let him that hath food give to him that hath none, so inculcating a generous, humane spirit. Here the teaching of John, as reported by Lk., touches that of Jesus, and is evangelical not legal in spirit.11. He that hath two coats] St Luke alone preserves for us the details in this interesting section. Beyond the single upper garment (chiton, cetoneth), and garment (himation) and girdle, no other article of dress was necessary. A second ‘tunic’ or cetoneth was a mere luxury, so long as thousands were too poor to own even one.

let him impart to him that hath none] St Paul gave similar advice (2 Corinthians 8:13-15), and St James (James 2:15-17), and St John (1 John 3:17), because they had learnt this spirit from Christ. A literal fulfilment of it has often been represented by Christian Art in the “Charity of St Martin.”

meat] Rather, food. The word has now acquired the specific sense of ‘flesh,’ which it never has in our E. V. For instance the “meat-offering” was generally an offering of flour and oil.

We may notice the following particulars respecting the preaching of the Baptist:

(1) It was stern, as was natural to an ascetic whose very aspect and mission were modelled on the example of Elijah. The particulars of his life, and dress, and food—the leathern girdle, the mantle of camel’s hair, the living on locusts and wild honey—are preserved for us by the other Evangelists, and they gave him that power of mastery over others which always springs from perfect self-control, and absolute self-abnegation. Hence “in his manifestation and agency he was like a burning torch; his whole life was a very earthquake; the whole man was a sermon.”

(2) It was absolutely dauntless. The unlettered Prophet of the Desert has not a particle of respect for the powerful Sadducees and long-robed luxurious Rabbis, and disdains to be flattered by their coming to listen to his teaching. Having nothing to hope from man’s favour, he has nothing to fear from man’s dislike.

(3) It shews remarkable insight into human nature, and into the needs and temptations of every class which came to him,—shewing that his ascetic seclusion did not arise from any contempt of, or aversion to, his fellowmen.

(4) It was intensely practical. Not only does it exclude all abstract and theological terms such as ‘justification,’ &c., but it says nothing directly of even faith, or love. In this respect it recalls the Old Testament, and might be summed up in the words of Balaam preserved in the prophet Micah, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8.

(5) Yet though it still belongs to the dispensation of the shadow it prophesies of the dawn. His first message was “Repent;” his second was “The kingdom of heaven is at hand:” and this message culminated in the words “Behold the Lamb of God,” which shewed that the Olam habba or ‘future age’ had already begun. These two great utterances “contain the two capital revelations to which all the preparation of the Gospel has been tending.” “Law and Prophecy; denunciation of sin and promise of pardon; the flame which consumes and the light which consoles—is not this the whole of the covenant?” Lange.

(6) It does not claim the credentials of a single miracle. The glory and greatness of John the Baptist, combined with the fact that not a single wonder is attributed to him, is the strongest argument for the truth of the Gospels against the ‘mythical theory’ of Strauss, who reduces the Gospel miracles to a circle of imaginative legends devised to glorify the Founder of Christianity. At the same time this acknowledged absence of miraculous powers enhances our conception of the enormous moral force which sufficed, without a sign, to stir to its very depths the heart of a sign-demanding age.

(7) It had only a partial and temporary popularity. Rejected by the Pharisees who said that “he had a devil,” the Baptist failed to produce a permanent influence on more than a chosen few (John 5:35; Luke 7:30; Matthew 11:18; Matthew 21:23-27; Acts 18:25; Acts 19:3-4). After his imprisonment he seems to have fallen into neglect, and he himself felt from the first that his main mission was to prepare the way for another, and to decrease before him. He was “the lamp kindled and shining” (John 5:35) which becomes needless and ceases to be noticed when the sun has dawned.Luke 3:11. Ὁ ἔχων, he who hath) The people were inclined to avarice above all other faults. Therefore John gives them injunctions directly opposed to this sin, viz. injunctions respecting meat and raiment. The fruit of a thoroughly inward repentance [which, as well as the general testimony of John concerning the Christ, is taken for granted here.—V. g.] passes forth to the outermost parts of the life: Luke 3:13-14 : and does not consist in mere specious works, but in such as become us as citizens, and yet are real good works: ch. Luke 10:34; Matthew 25:35; Isaiah 58:6-7.—δύο χιτῶνας, two coats [rather tunics or inner vests]) and so as regards other articles of which we possess duplicates.—μεταδότω, let him impart) Liberality is wider in its range of comprehension, than generosity merely in money matters.Verse 11. - He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. This advice is simple and practical. No difficult counsels of perfection are recommended, no useless penance. The great confessor simply presses home to his penitents the duty of unselfishness, the beauty of quiet generosity in the sight of God. The whole teaching of this eminent man of God was thoroughly practical. His predecessor, Micah, centuries before had given the luxurious and selfish Israel of his time the same Divine lesson: "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). Coats (χιτῶνας)

See on Matthew 5:40.

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