Luke 12
Matthew Poole's Commentary
In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Luke 12:1-12 Christ teacheth his disciples to avoid hypocrisy, and

not to be fearful in publishing his doctrine.

Luke 12:13-21 He refuseth to be judge in a civil cause, and warns the

people to beware of covetousness by the parable of a

rich man, who boasted himself in his multiplied stores.

Luke 12:22-32 He exhorteth, not to be over anxious about the

provisions of this life; but to seek the kingdom of God,

Luke 12:33,34 to lay up treasure in heaven by giving alms,

Luke 12:35-40 and to be always ready against our Lord’s coming.

Luke 12:41-48 By the parable of a good and a wicked steward he

showeth the duty of his ministers in particular.

Luke 12:49-53 He foretells the divisions on account of the gospel,

Luke 12:54-56 reproveth the people for not discerning the times,

Luke 12:57-59 and showeth the danger of neglecting the means of

reconciliation offered them.

We read of such a caution given to the disciples, Matthew 16:6. But that is not the same caution with this; there he compared their doctrine to leaven, for the aptness of it to infect others; here he compares their lives to the same thing, and for the same reason: this appeareth to be the same sense of our Saviour here, because he saith their leaven is hypocrisy. There are none so like to do mischief to the better sort of people, as those that, under a mask and exterior disguise of severity and strictness, indulge themselves in corrupt affections and vicious inclinations.

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
It is a proverbial expression: those, and parabolical expressions, may be applied in several cases, and to several subjects: we have met with this before variously applied, Matthew 10:26 Mark 4:22; and in this Gospel, Luke 8:17. Here it is applied as an argument against hypocrisy, or the concealing of naughty and corrupt hearts under the vizor and disguise of demure looks, or fair conversation. In the day of judgment sinners shall walk naked, and men shall see their shame; God will in that day make known all the secrets of men’s hearts, to be sure the secrets of all their hearts, whose iniquities are not forgiven, and whose sins are not covered.

Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
We have something very like this Matthew 10:27, spoken by way of precept. It seemeth to be a sentence also variously applied: it may be left indifferent to the reader, whether he will understand it as a promise of the publication of the gospel, (to which purpose it seems to be spoken in the form of a precept, Matthew 10:27), or as a further enlargement of his former discourse, Luke 12:2.

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
Ver. 4,5. See Poole on "Matthew 10:28", where we met with the same. In Luke 12:5-13 our Saviour arms his disciples to encounter those storms of persecution which he knew they would meet with after he should be taken up into heaven. Here are two arguments in this verse:

1. The one drawn from the impotency, or limited power, of the most malicious enemies; they can kill the body, but can do no more.

2. From the mighty power of God, who can cast us into hell. Matthew saith, who can cast body and soul into hell fire:

whence is evident:

1. That there are punishments beyond this life; all men’s punishments will not end with the killing of their bodies.

2. That men have souls as well as bodies, and both souls and bodies of sinners will in the resurrection be made capable of eternal punishment.

3. That the ready way to bring us under that misery, is to be more afraid of the wrath of men than of the wrath of God.

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
See Poole on "Luke 12:4"

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
Ver. 6,7. See Poole on "Matthew 10:29", and following verses to Matthew 10:31. Our Saviour’s third argument is brought from the providence of God, both his general providence, upholding the beings of all his creatures, so that he forgetteth not a sparrow, though a creature of so minute a value, that two of them are sold for a farthing, as Matthew saith, or five for two farthings, as Luke saith; yea, he so remembereth them, that one of them falls not to the ground without his knowledge and leave, saith Matthew. But besides this, God exerciseth a more special providence towards creatures, with reference to their dignity and excellency. Now, (saith our Saviour),

you are of more value than many sparrows; you are so as men, you are more so as my disciples, especially as my ministers and ambassadors.

The very hairs of your head are numbered; God will regard your most minute concerns.

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
See Poole on "Luke 12:6"

Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:
Ver. 8,9. See Poole on "Matthew 10:32", See Poole on "Matthew 10:33". Here is a fourth and fifth argument, drawn from the rewards and punishments of such as shall confess or deny Christ before men. Confession here signifies, the owning and adhering to the truths and ways of God in a time of opposition: the reward promised is, Christ’s owning those that do it at the day of judgment; before the Father, saith Matthew;

before the angels, saith Luke. Christ hath no need of our owning him, his truth and ways; we may by it be profitable to ourselves, but not to him: we shall have need in the day of judgment of Christ’s owning us. By the denial of Christ, is meant our apostasy from the truths or ways of God, the denial of his truths, ways, or interest in this world: it implies a persecuting of them, but signifieth something much less, a denial by words, or a forsaking and not adhering to them. The punishment will be Christ’s denial of us in the day of judgment. What that signifieth Matthew tells us, Matthew 7:23, I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, I know you not, ye that work iniquity. And, he shall say to them on his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting, fire, prepared for the devil and his angels, Matthew 25:41. This must be understood not of such as deny him, as Peter did, in an hour of great temptation, and then go out and weep bitterly, and again return unto him, but of such as persist in such denials, and return not to confess him.

But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
See Poole on "Luke 11:8"

And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
See Poole on "Matthew 12:31". See Poole on "Mark 3:28". See Poole on "Mark 3:29".

And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
See Poole on "Luke 12:11"

And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
Ver. 13,14. This passage certainly is not recorded for nothing; if it teacheth us any thing, it is this, That matters of civil justice belong not to those whom Christ sends to preach his gospel: that work is enough for them. Christ here refuseth the office so much as of an arbitrator. A very learned author tells us, that the practice of bringing civil matters before ecclesiastical men, as judges, began in the captivity of Babylon, the Jews by that means avoiding the bringing their differences before pagan judges, which the apostle also persuadeth at large to the primitive Christians, in 1 Corinthians 6:1,2, &c. But that the ministers of the gospel should be employed, or might be employed, in them, doth not appear by the apostle; nay, he speaks the contrary, 1 Corinthians 6:4, Set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church: these surely were not the elders in it. Under the Romans, the Jews had more liberty, having civil courts made up of persons of their own religion, to whom our Saviour turns over this man; being not willing to move out of his calling, as a minister of the gospel. As Christ’s commissioners, it is most certain that no ministers of the gospel can intermeddle in civil judgments; whether those who are such commissioners of Christ may yet as men’s commissioners act, it stands those in hand who are ambitious of such an employment, and can find leisure enough for it, and are called to it, to inquire: I shall not intermeddle in that controversy. To me, the proper work of the gospel is work enough.

And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
See Poole on "Luke 12:13"

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
The pleonexia, here translated covetousness immoderate desire of having of this world’s goods, which discovers itself either by unrighteous acts in procuring, or uncharitable omissions for the keeping, of the things of this life. It is that filarguria, love of money, which the apostle determines to be the root of all evil. It is also discovered by a too much thoughtfulness what we shall eat, drink, or put on, or by the too great meltings of our hearts into our bags of gold or silver. All these come under the notion of that covetousness which is here forbidden. In short, whatsoever it is that hindereth our contentment with the portion God giveth us upon our endeavours, though it amounts to no more than food and raiment, according to the apostle’s precept, 1 Timothy 6:8 Hebrews 13:5. This is what Christ warns his disciples to beware of; he gives us the reason, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of what he possesseth: which is true, whether we understand by life the subsisting and upholding of our life, or (as life is often taken) for the happiness and felicity of our lives. Abundance is not necessary to uphold our lives. Ad manum est quod sat est, saith Seneca, Nature is content with a little. Sudamus ad supervacanea, ( saith he), We sweat only to get superfluities. Nor will abundance protect our lives; it will not keep off an enemy, but rather tempt him; nor fence out a disease, but rather contribute to it, as engaging us in immoderate cares or labours to procure and keep it, or as exposing us to temptations to riot and debauchery, by which men’s lives are often shortened. Nor doth the happiness of life lie in the abundance of what we possess. Some philosophers determined rightly, that something of this world’s good is necessary to our happiness of life, but abundance is not. The poor are as merry, and many times more satisfied, more healthy, and at more ease, than those that have abundance. It is a golden sentence, which deserves to be engraven in every soul.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
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 thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
See Poole on "Luke 12:16"

And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
See Poole on "Luke 12:17"

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
See Poole on "Luke 12:17"

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
See Poole on "Luke 12:18"

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
See Poole on "Luke 12:18"

And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
Ver. 22-30. See Poole on "Matthew 6:25", and following verses to Matthew 6:32, where we before met with all that is here. The thoughtfulness here forbidden is not moderate, prudent thoughtfulness, or care; but,

1. A distrustful thoughtfulness;

2. Distracting or dividing cares, such as make a man live in suspense, and to be wavering as a meteor, mh metewrizesye; or,

3. A thoughtfulness for high things, as some interpret that word; but possibly it better signifies such a thoughtfulness to be forbidden, as keeps the mind of man from rest, in a continual motion and fluctuation; or:

4. Any such thoughtfulness as is inconsistent with our seeking first the kingdom of God.

Against this thoughtfulness our Lord arms his disciples with the consideration:

1. Of their dependence on God necessarily for their lives, which are better than meat and raiment, Luke 12:23.

2. Of the providence of God, which extending to all orders of creatures, particularly to such as merely have life, (such are vegetables, the grass and flowers), and such as have only life and sense, (such are the ravens), it cannot be reasonably presumed that it will be wanting to men, who are the most noble order of sublunary creatures, having being, life, sense, and reason (which is the image of God in man).

3. From the consideration of the vanity of this care, by which we cannot contribute a cubit to our stature.

4. From the consideration that the heathens make these things their care, whom Christians ought to excel, as knowing more, and living under more excellent hopes and promises than they have. Lastly, From the consideration of their relation to God as a Father, and their Father’s knowing what they have need of, of whom therefore it were unreasonable to presume, that he should suffer them to want what is necessary for his children. See more in the notes before mentioned.

The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
See Poole on "Luke 12:22"

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
See Poole on "Luke 12:22"

And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
See Poole on "Luke 12:22"

If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
See Poole on "Luke 12:22"

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
See Poole on "Luke 12:22"

If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
See Poole on "Luke 12:22"

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
See Poole on "Luke 12:22"

For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
See Poole on "Luke 12:22"

But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew saith, seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added, &c. The particle plhn prefixed here to zhteite, (which we translate rather seek), doth expound Matthew’s prwton, seek first, and likewise expounds our Saviour’s meaning, when he said. Take no thought, what ye should eat, &c.; that is, let not those be your only or principal thoughts, quin etiam, tantum maxime, but also, and mostly, or chiefly,

seek ye the kingdom of God, that kingdom mentioned in the next verse,

and all these things shall be added to you; either an affluence of them; or a sufficiency of them, with a contented, satisfied mind. See Poole on "Matthew 6:33".

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Our Saviour had mentioned a kingdom, Luke 12:31. How much too big a thought was this for fishermen, and others of his poor hearers, to entertain! He therefore here assures them of the thing, that they should have a kingdom, and showeth them that their title to it was his and their Father’s will; though they were a little flock, and so not likely to conquer a kingdom upon earth for themselves, yet they should have a kingdom from the free donation of him, who had kingdoms to give, and would give it to them, because he was their Father. By this kingdom can be understood nothing else but that state of honour, glory, and dignity which believers shall have in the world that is to come; which they shall have not from merit, but gift; not from the first good motions and inclinations of their own will, but from the free motions of the Divine will; and therefore they had no reason to fear that God would not provide food convenient for them. He that had provided a kingdom for them, which he would one day give unto them, would certainly provide bread for them, and give it to them.

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

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
See Poole on "Luke 12:33"

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
Ver. 35,36. The first words of Luke 12:40, Be ye therefore ready also, expound Luke 12:35. In this sense we find the phrase used, 1 Kings 18:46 2 Kings 4:29 9:1 Job 38:3 40:7 Jeremiah 1:17. In those Eastern countries both masters and servants were wont to wear long garments, which they were wont to gird up, either when they went to fight, or when they were to travel, Exodus 12:11 1 Kings 18:46; or when they went about any service; see Luke 17:8 John 13:4: this was a piece of their preparation. We read of the girding about of the loins of the mind with truth, Ephesians 6:14, and with habits of grace and virtue; 1 Peter 1:13, Wherefore gird up the loins of your minds, be sober, and hope to the end. The other phrase, and your lights burning, is of the same import, relating to the Lord’s coming from the wedding, mentioned Luke 12:36; for in those countries their weddings were celebrated in the night. Christ’s coming to judgment, whether our particular or the more general judgment, is that which is here set out to us, under the notion of a man’s coming home late at night from a wedding. Nor improperly, for in this life souls are united to Christ, Ephesians 5:32. When Christ shall have done his work of that nature upon the earth, that all the elect shall be gathered, then shall he come to judge the world. He would have all his people be ready for that day, and waiting for their Lord, that his coming may be welcome to them.

And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
See Poole on "Luke 12:35"

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
Ver. 37-40. The duty which Christ is here pressing upon his hearers is watchfulness, which signifieth:

1. A negation of sleep;

2. An industrious keeping ourselves awake with reference to some particular end. The end here expressed is the happy receiving of Christ, coming to judgment; from whence is evident, that the watching here intended is a spiritual watching, which is a denial of ourselves as to our lusts, and the sleep of sin, which is compared to sleep, Romans 13:11 Ephesians 5:14, and an industrious keeping ourselves from such sleep in order to the coming of our Lord, who will come at an hour when we think not, Luke 12:40; his coming is to us uncertain, and will be to many surprising.

This watchfulness he presseth upon his hearers;

1. From the reward the Lord will give to such persons:

He shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them: very high metaphorical expressions, signifying no more, than that he will put upon them a very high honour and dignity, and satisfy them with a fulness of happiness and glory, and they shall be at rest for ever. The state of glory is elsewhere set out under the notion of drinking new wine in the kingdom of God, and eating and drinking in his kingdom.

2. From the benefit which they will have by watching in this; that let the Lord come when he will, whether in the second or third watch, they will be ready, and they shall be blessed.

3. He presseth it also from the ordinary prudence of men, who if they have an intimation that a thief is coming, will watch, and prevent the mischief that might ensue by the breaking open of their houses. But concerning those words;

See Poole on "Matthew 24:43", See Poole on "Matthew 24:44", where we met with them before used upon the same occasion.

And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
See Poole on "Luke 12:37"

And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
See Poole on "Luke 12:37"

Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
See Poole on "Luke 12:37"

Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
Ver. 41-48. See Poole on "Matthew 24:45" and following verses to Matthew 24:51, where we met with the same parable, but here expressed more largely, and with more circumstances. Matthew hath not the introduction to it which we have here, Luke 12:41.

It was occasioned from Peter’s saying to Christ, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or unto all? Doth this duty of watchfulness concern all thy disciples, or only us, that are thine apostles, the ministers of thy gospel? The substance of what our Lord saith in answer to Peter, from Luke 12:42-48, is, Peter, I spake it to all, I have not the meanest hearer but is concerned to watch against my coming; but you that are ministers of my gospel are most eminently concerned. Others are concerned, upon the pain of eternal damnation, to have the loins of their understandings girt about with truth, the loins of their minds girt with sobriety and hope, to have their lights burning, to be every way and always ready, watching against sin, abstaining from it, and industriously keeping themselves from any obedience to their lusts, in a prospect of my coming to judgment. But you that are to be ministers are more highly concerned than others. You are the rulers of my household, the stewards of my mysteries, 1 Corinthians 4:1; your work is to give the rest of my people their portion of meat in due season; if you faithfully do this, you shall be blessed, holding on in doing of it to your lives end, so as your Lord find you so doing. But if any of you shall be found, who out of any atheistical principles, not in heart believing what you preach to others, but saying, either that I will not come, or not so soon but you may sleep awhile, and wake time enough to prepare for my coming; if they who should be examples to my flock, and are the rulers over them, shall give reins to their lusts, and eat with the gluttons, and drink with the drunkards; if they who should feed my flock, shall fail to the worrying of it, instead of feeding, beating my men servants and maidens; the Lord will not spare them long, but be upon them before they are aware, kai dicotomhsei, and cut them to pieces, (the word signifies to divide into two parts), as those nations were wont to serve the vilest transgressors, traitors, and rebels, and violaters of their covenants; they shall be most severely dealt withal, Luke 12:47, they shall be beaten with many stripes, because they knew their Master’s will, and did it not. Ignorance of the Divine will not wholly excuse the sinner, he shall be beaten, but his stripes shall be few, his damnation shall be gentle compared with a minister’s, that knows his Master’s will, but doth it not; teacheth it to others, but doth it not himself. Our Saviour further tells them, that this just judgment of God upon lewd and scandalous ministers, is justified by the ordinary practice of men, who require much where they give much, and ask milch of those to whom they have committed great trusts. God looks upon wicked, loose, and scandalous and mischievous ministers as the greatest transgressors, and he will deal with them as such. There will be degrees in the punishment as well as in the rewards of another life. Such persons as have taken upon them to be the rulers of Christ’s household, the stewards of his mysteries, if they be vile and wicked, if they be not faithful in giving the servants of Christ’s household their portion in its season, must expect the deepest place in the bottomless pit: they know more than others, they have more committed to their trust than others, their examples do more harm than others, their sins are greater than others, and the fiery furnace will for them be heated over seven times.

And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
See Poole on "Luke 12:41"

Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
See Poole on "Luke 12:41"

Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
See Poole on "Luke 12:41"

But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
See Poole on "Luke 12:45"

The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
See Poole on "Luk 14:42"

And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
See Poole on "Luke 12:42"

But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
See Poole on "Luke 12:42"

I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?
Some of the ancients here by fire understood the Holy Ghost, or the preaching of the gospel, with those flames of love and holy affections which that causeth in the hearts of good people; but this interpretation cannot but be looked upon as strained to those who compare this verse with Luke 12:51-53, and the parallel text in Matthew 10:34-36. By

fire here therefore is to be understood the dissension or division mentioned Luke 12:51, with all those persecutions, wars, &c. which are the effects of it. A prediction or threatening of persecutions or wars, or any kind of troubled state of things, is often expressed in holy writ under the notion of fire, and water, or a flood, for though fire and water are opposite in their qualities, yet they both agree in the common effect of consumption, wasting, and desolation. Christ saith he came to send it, because he foresaw this would be a certain consequent, though not a proper and natural effect, of the preaching of the gospel. Christ may be said to come to send a fire, in the same sense as he that is employed in the removal of a filthy dunghill may be said to come to send a stench; his design is to carry the muck away, and in due time he will have done it, but in the mean time it sends out a much greater stench than before it was stirred.

And what will I, if it be already kindled? Not to take notice of what critical authors say about the signification of the particles or the phrase here used, I take the true sense to be, I desire nothing more than that it were already kindled; nor was this any more inconsistent with the goodness and holiness of Christ, than for a goldsmith to wish the fire was kindled that should separate the dross from the pure metal, or than for Christ to desire that his floor were thoroughly purged. Christ doth not desire the fire for the fire’s sake, but for the make of that effect it would have, in separating in his church the good from the bad; it was a thing he saw would be through the opposition the world would give to the preaching of the gospel, before his gospel would obtain in the world; I would, saith he, that what they do they would do quickly, that they would spit their venom, that my Father might make their wrath to praise him. Whereas some interpret it indicatively, as if the fire were already begun, ei hdh anhafh can hardly be no interpreted.

But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
This baptism, spoken of here by our Saviour, is the same mentioned Matthew 20:22,23, and can be understood of nothing but his passion, the accomplishment of which he hints us was to be before the fire (before mentioned) would blaze up on the earth. Concerning this he saith he was straitened till it was accomplished: not that he willed the influencing of the heart of Judas to betray him, the heart of Pilate to condemn him, or the hearts of the wicked Jews to accuse, condemn, and crucify him; but he willed these events, for the manifestation of the glory of his Father, in the redemption of the world by him. As the woman big with child heartily wishes that the hour of her travail were come and over, not for the pain’s sake, which she must endure, but for her own ease’ sake, and the joy she should have of a child born into the world.

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
Ver. 51-53. See Poole on "Matthew 10:34", See Poole on "Matthew 10:35". Our Saviour in these words doth but pursue the same argument which began Luke 12:49, to show what would be the consequences of the doctrine of the gospel. And hereby they might have understood a design in our Saviour to convince them, that the business of the Messiah whom they expect was not to exercise a temporal but a spiritual kingdom and power, not to restore to their nation a civil peace, but to purchase their peace with God, and to bring them to that joy and peace which is consequent to believing. For as to the external state of things, it would be much more troubled than it was before; our Lord foresaw how tenacious both the Jews and pagans, and in succeeding ages Christians also, would be of their idolatries and superstitious rites and usages, with whom their believing relations not complying, there would be greater feuds and animosities arise than ever were before; the father would hate the son, the son the father, &c. Before the gospel came amongst the heathens, they were entirely the devil’s kingdom, which is not divided against itself. But when by Christ those who belonged to the election of grace should be separated, through the devil’s rage and men’s lusts, there would be continual feuds and divisions.

For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
See Poole on "Luke 12:51"

The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
See Poole on "Luke 12:52"

And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.
Ver. 54-56. We met with a discourse of the same nature; See Poole on "Matthew 16:2", See Poole on "Matthew 16:3". The sense of our Saviour is, that God by his prophets had given them more certain signs and revelations of the coming of the Messiah, and of the nature of his kingdom, and the effects and consequences of it, than were written in nature of any natural effects; and upbraids their stupid ignorance and unbelief, that they could give credit to and discern the latter and not the former, whereas the former were much more certain.

And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.
See Poole on "Luke 12:54"

Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?
See Poole on "Luke 12:55"

Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?
Ver. 57-59. Our Saviour made use of this expression, Matthew 5:25,26, to persuade peace between brethren; here he useth it to persuade men to acquaint themselves with God, and be at peace. He had been treating of the last judgment; there was no fitter foundation upon which he could build all exhortation to repentance, and making our peace with God. In not doing of it, he telleth his hearers that they did not of themselves judge what was right, for if they did, they would judge themselves as much concerned to come to an agreement with God, as they did ordinarily to come to an agreement with men. Now if amongst men they had an adversary, they did not judge it prudence to stand out with him till the sentence of the judge were past, and they were imprisoned, not to come out till they had paid every farthing of the debt and charges wherein they were condemned; but to agree while they were in the way, before they came to a final judgment in the case, that so, having compounded the case, they might avoid the judgment. So in the case between God and their souls, if they judged right, they would judge that it was not their wisdom to stand out till the irrevocable sentence of condemnation was passed upon them, but in the way, during the time of this life, they would make their peace with God, and reform their lives before that great and terrible day came. It is a sign the papists are at a woeful loss for arguments to prove purgatory, when they make use of this text, because it is said, thou shalt not depart thence till thou hast paid the very last mite, as if this text spake of a prison for souls from which there is an outlet. Such another argument will prove, from Psalm 110:1, that Christ shall not sit at the right hand of his Father, because God only said to him. Sit there until I make thine enemies thy footstool; and that Joseph knew Mary after Christ was born, because it is said, Matthew 1:25, he knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. But we have before showed that that term, though it be exclusive of a time past, yet doth not determine a future time.

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.
See Poole on "Luke 12:57"

I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.
See Poole on "Luke 12:57"

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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