From: Over 50 Interpreters Explain the Gospel of Luke Return to Home
By Roland H. Worth, Jr. © 2015
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Weymouth: Meanwhile the people had come streaming towards Him by tens of thousands, so that they were trampling one another under foot. And now He proceeded to say to His disciples first, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is to say, beware of hypocrisy.
WEB: Meanwhile, when a multitude of many thousands had gathered together, so much so that they trampled on each other, he began to tell his disciples first of all, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Young’s: At which time the myriads of the
multitude having been gathered together, so as to tread upon one another, he
began to say unto his disciples, first, 'Take heed to yourselves of the leaven
of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy;
Conte (RC): Then, as great crowds were standing so close that they were stepping on one another, he began to say to his disciples: "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
12:1 In the meantime. While He was discoursing with the scribes and Pharisees as recorded in the last chapter. 
when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people. Literally, myraids--that is, ten thousands; meaning here, vast multitudes--such a throng and press of people as to trample on one another. 
It is evident that the noise [= report?] of this disgraceful attack on our Lord had been heard. This scene was as it were the watershed of our Lord’s ministry in Galilee. At this period He had excited intense opposition among the religious authorities, but was still beloved and revered by the people. They therefore flocked together for His protection, and their arrival hushed the unseemly and hostile vehemence of the Pharisees. 
Or: Since there was no way to know that the fatal attack on Him was going to occur when it did, it seems far more likely that the intent of the text is to show that even the attacks of the “professionally religious” was not impeding the willingness of the masses to hear Him. Which surely drove His critics to utter distraction! [rw]
insomuch that they trode one upon another. Too many people; too small a space. They want to hear Jesus and to hear Him best, they wish to be close physically. The result is a log jam of bodies. But the alternative would be not to hear or to leave. Faced with the alternatives, they bear with the pressure of the crowd. [rw]
He began to say unto His disciples first of all. This does not mean that His disciples were, before all others, to avoid hypocrisy; but that this was the first or chief thing of which they were to beware. 
Many prefer to connect “first of all” with what follows: first of all beware, etc.; but as this speech is interrupted by address to others (verse 13 ff.), we may as well refer the phrase to them in this place: to the disciples first, to others afterward. 
Beware of. Be on guard against. However easy it is to act this way, avoid it. Even when it might make your own life easier. [rw]
the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is like leaven, or yeast, because (1) it may exist without being immediately detected. Leaven mixed in flour is not known unto it produces its effects. (2) It will soon pervade the whole mass. So hypocrisy will, if undetected and unremoved, soon pervade all our exercises and feelings. (3) It is swelling. It puffs us up and fills us with pride and vanity. 
These mistaken men dreamed that they possessed a holiness which was never theirs; unconscious hypocrites they doubtless were, without possibly even suspecting it themselves. 
Weymouth: There is nothing that is covered up which will not be uncovered, nor hidden which will not become known.
WEB: But there is nothing covered up, that will not be revealed, nor hidden, that will not be known.
Young’s: and there is nothing covered, that shall
not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known;
Conte (RC): For there is nothing covered, which will not be revealed, nor anything hidden, which will not be known.
12:2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed. The day would come when his estimate of this now popular teaching of the Pharisees would be found to have been correct. Its real nature, now hid, would be revealed and fully known and discredited; while, on the other hand, the words and teaching of His disciples, now listened to but by few, and those of seemingly little account, would become widely and generally known and listened to. 
neither hid, that shall not be known. “Truth wins out.” No matter how well disguised the false piety, the hidden evils, and the unjust treatment of others enough of it leaks out to others to warn them of the true motives and what is actually going on. Of course this is based upon the assumption that one is willing to see what is in front of them. Unfortunately, there are those who will let absolutely nothing stand in the way of what “must” be the truth. [rw]
Weymouth: Whatever therefore you have said in the dark, will be heard in the light; and what you have whispered within closed doors will be proclaimed from the house-tops.
WEB: Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light. What you have spoken in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.
Young’s: because whatever in the darkness ye said,
in the light shall be heard: and what to the ear ye spake
in the inner-chambers, shall be proclaimed upon the house-tops.
Conte (RC): For the things that you have spoken in darkness will be declared in the light. And what you have said in the ear in bedrooms will be proclaimed from the housetops.
12:3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light. Just as the weaknesses of some—the religious specialists Jesus had condemned—would be widely accepted, the truth the disciples had spoken of in secret because of danger would circulate openly where all could see and hear it in the “light of day.” [rw]
and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets. Many fearing the storm of persecution which was soon to come upon the disciples would attempt to conceal their faith, but the attempt would be vain, for one could not even trust his own family (Luke 12:51-53) to keep silent about what was said even in the inner chambers of the home. Bold speech would be best. 
closets. ταμείοις -- The word means an apartment where supplies are divided and apportioned: a treasury, magazine, and therefore a secret and well-guarded place. There the steward (ταμίας), the distributor, has his seat. 
shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. These were flat, terrace-like roofs, and, the houses generally being low, one who spoke from them would easily be heard in the street beneath. "These words have a strong Syrian colouring. The Syrian house-top (in Matthew 10:27 and here) presents an image which has no sense in Asia Minor, or Greece, or Italy, or even at Antioch. The flat roofs cease at the mouth of the Orontes; Antioch itself has sloping roofs." 
Weymouth: "But to you who are my friends I say, "'Be not afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do nothing further.
WEB: "I tell you, my friends, don't be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
Young’s: 'And I say to you, my friends, be not
afraid of those killing the body, and after these things are not having
anything over to do;
Conte (RC): So I say to you, my friends: Do not be fearful of those who kill the body, and afterwards have no more that they can do.
12:4 And I say unto you. The disciples are still addressed; but a new and important branch of the discourse opens. 
my friends. [The expression] must have had a touching significance to Him and to them, after the treatment He had just received from the Pharisees. 
Be not afraid of them that kill the body. Men may, in their displeasure at your fidelity to the truth, put you to death. (So they did afterward to James, Peter, Paul, and many such.) But their rage cannot go beyond the bounds of natural life, readiness to lose which, for Christ’s sake, is one of the known conditions of discipleship (9:23-25). 
and after that have no more that they can do. The same truth was an encouragement to the partially illuminated fortitude of Stoicism. Hence it constantly occurs in the Manual of Epictetus. 
Weymouth: I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who after killing has power to throw into Gehenna: yes, I say to you, fear him.
WEB: But I will warn you whom you should fear. Fear him, who after he has killed, has power to cast into Gehenna. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
Young’s: but I will show to you, whom ye may fear;
Fear him who, after the killing, is having authority to cast to the gehenna; yes, I say to you, Fear
Conte (RC): But I will reveal to you whom you should fear. Fear him who, after he will have killed, has the power to cast into Hell. So I say to you: Fear him.
12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. The Saviour seems to say, Ye are indeed in peril; fear is an inevitable incident of thoughtful human experience; whichever course ye take, ye will excite displeasure. But much depends on whose fear ye cherish and whose hatred ye brave. 
Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell. Even the friends of God are commanded to fear God as a being who has authority to send both body and soul into hell. Therefore it is proper even for the most holy persons to maintain a fear of God as the punisher of all unrighteousness. A man has but one life to lose, and one soul to save; and it is madness to sacrifice the salvation of the soul to the preservation of the life. 
Several modern expositors, among them even Stier and Van Oosterzee, have strangely understood that Jesus here inculcates on His disciples the fear of Satan. If any one needs argument that--after God has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13), we need more in order to avoid all harm, than to fear God, he may read the words of Alford on Matthew 10:28, which is quoted also by the American editor of Lange on our passage. 
hell. Hell is represented by Sheol in the Old, and by Hades in the New Testament. The word is used by the sacred writers in several senses. which it is important to distinguish. The Hebrew word, translated hell in our Bible, sometimes means simply the grave, the receptacle of the dead, or the place of departed spirits, as in Job xi. 7-9; Ps. xvi. 10, xcccic. 8; Isa. v. 14, xiv. 9; Amos ix. 2-3; Acts. ii. 31; Rev. xx. 14. In other passages it denotes the place of future punishment, as in Ps. ix. 17; Prov. v. 5, ix. 18, xxiii. 14, which punishment consists, in part at least, in the eternal separation of the soul from God and from the presence of His glory, and in the suffering of inconceivable anguish and remorse forever and ever.
In the New Testament, hell, as the place of final punishment for sinners, is more distinctively indicated by the term Gehenna, or valley of Hinnom (2 Chron. xxxiii. 6), which is the word translated "hell" in the verse now before us; also in Matt. v. 22, 29-30, x. 28, xviii. 9, xxiii. 15, 33; Mark ix. 43, 45, 47; James iii. 6. It is also distinctively indicated by such phrases as "the place of torment" (Luke xvi. 28);" everlasting fire" (Matt. xxv. 41); "the hell of fire," is not quenched." (Mark ix. 44.) 
yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Because He can punish in ways and to a degree far beyond any mere mortal. The worst earthly punishment ends, even if only by death. With God, His punishments never end. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). [rw]
In depth: The appropriateness of the name “Gehenna” to describe a place of permanent, ongoing punishment . A particular portion of the valley was specially polluted by this pagan worship. King Josiah and others took great pains to defile the spot, so as to prevent a repetition of the wickedness, by depositing there the carcasses of beasts, and bodies of executed criminals, and making it the dumping-ground of all refuse and filthy of the city. It thus became an abomination to all pious Jews, and is reported, in Talmudic traditions to have been still further horrible by the presence of perpetual fires, which were necessary to consume the pestiferous offal. Although this last statement is denied by Dr. Edward Robinson and others, the traditions seem to fall in with the necessities of the case, as some such consumption of the refuse must have been necessary to the health of the city, and to its ceremonial purity.
To it Isaiah probably refers (66:24), when he speaks of the carcasses of transgressors there, and says, “their worm shall not die; neither shall their fire be quenched.” He expressly names the place (30:33), when he says, symbolically, that the Lord hath widened and deepened it, to make it capable of holding all that should be buried there (compare Jeremiah 7:31-33), and adds, “the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.” Thus early was the natural conception of this horrid place becoming fit to represent the scene of future punishment to God’s enemies. The idea of such punishment was not yet distinctly revealed; but it became clearer with the progress of revelation in the Old Testament.
When, therefore, our Saviour needed a term to denote His view of the future condition of those who died disobedient to God, the name of that [horrible] valley was ready to His hand. Gehenna, suggestive of the fires of shameful and cruel idolatry, of reeking corruption, and, probably also, of perpetual flames and smoke, and offensive odors, would be as expressive a symbol of the place of eternal punishment, as would be the banquet with Abraham, the thrones of honor, the Father’s house with its many mansions, of the scene and circumstances of the eternal felicity of the saints. 
Weymouth: Are not five sparrows sold for a penny? and yet not one of them is a thing forgotten in God's sight.
WEB: "Aren't five sparrows sold for two assaria coins? Not one of them is forgotten by God.
Young’s: 'Are not five sparrows sold for two assars? and one of them is not
forgotten before God,
Conte (RC): Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? And yet not one of these is forgotten in the sight of God.
12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings. See Matthew 10:29, from which place we learn that two sparrows were sold for one farthing, and here that five were sold for two farthings: thus we find a certain proportion--for one farthing you could get but two, while for two farthings you could get five. 
and not one of them is forgotten before God? These are “poor folks’ offerings,” but God was still just as aware of them as the rich sacrifices the well-to-do were able to bring to the Temple. [rw]
Weymouth: But the very hairs on your heads are all counted. Away with fear: you are more precious than a multitude of sparrows.'
WEB: But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore don't be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows.
Young’s: but even the hairs of your head have been
all numbered; therefore fear ye not, than many
sparrows ye are of more value.
Conte (RC): But even the very hairs of your head have all been numbered. Therefore, do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.
12:7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Bengel: "Hairs--of which ye yourselves are heedless. A hair is a proverbial expression for an utter trifle." 
See 21:18; Acts 27:34; and in the Old Testament 1 Samuel 14:45; 1 Kings 1:52. 
God knows everything about you—even the things you yourself don’t know (like the number of hairs on the head). Hence nothing about you is unimportant to your God. [rw]
Fear not. The timid heart oft needs reassurance. 
ye are of more value than many sparrows. The computation of how far they excel sparrows in value, is left to the disciples. 
The point is that even Temple sacrifices fade into comparative insignificance compared to the value of His disciples. Perhaps we have here the root of the idea of being “a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1). [rw]
Weymouth: "And I tell you that every man who shall have acknowledged me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.
WEB: "I tell you, everyone who confesses me before men, him will the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God;
Young’s: 'And I say to you, Every one -- whoever
may confess with me before men, the Son of Man also shall confess with him
before the messengers of God,
Conte (RC): But I say to you: Everyone who will have confessed me before men, the Son of man will also confess him before the Angels of God.
12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men. [This] is to avow one’s faith in Him as being that which He claims to be, Messiah and Saviour, and to render to Him in practice that religious recognition which is due. This involves self-denial always, generally something of sacrifice, and sometimes the hazard of life; but not for naught. The recompense is to be ample. 
him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. Compared to angels, mere mortals are—well, nothing. Yet Jesus will speak well of us to them if we but uphold Him while we are on earth. [rw]
Weymouth: But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
WEB: but he who denies me in the presence of men will be denied in the presence of the angels of God.
Young’s: and he who hath denied me before men,
shall be denied before the messengers of God,
Conte (RC): But everyone who will have denied me before men, he will be denied before the Angels of God.
12:9 But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. The contrast is between “confess” (= accept, embrace, encourage others to follow [verse 9]) and “denying” (= rejecting, disparaging, discouraging others from following). Either way the “angels of God” know about it. Might an overtone of protection (verse 8) and punishment (verse 9) be intended since angels are pictured Biblically as intervening for or against people who are still alive? Even if the intent be strictly on them knowing—rather than reacting earthside to it—the difference is still profound: Would you rather be known in heavenly places as a friend of Christ or as a foe? [rw]
Weymouth: "Moreover every one who shall speak against the Son of Man, may obtain forgiveness; but he who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never obtain forgiveness.
WEB: Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
Young’s: and every one whoever shall say a word to
the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven to him, but to him who to the Holy Spirit
did speak evil, it shall not be forgiven.
Conte (RC): And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of man, it will be forgiven of him. But of him who will have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven.
12:10 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him. If it is asked for, of course. God imposes salvation on no one. When contrasted with an unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit the idea probably is to contrast a sin that one might well change one’s mind about (repudiating Christ) versus sin where one has become so hard hearted that one has destroyed one’s own capacity to change. [rw]
but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit appeared, in the only case of which we have a description [resulted] in a state of mind which by speech confounded [= confused] God and the devil, ascribing the work of the former to the latter, His opposite and His arch-enemy (11:15 and parallels [Matthew 12:24; Mark 12:22]). What repentance could there be for a mind to which the clearest manifestations of God’s holiness and kindness appeared to be diabolical conduct? 
On the exact nature of the “unpardonable sin” theologians have speculated in vain, and all that we can see is that it must be the most flagrant degree of sin against the fullest light and knowledge. 
Weymouth: And when they are bringing you before synagogues and magistrates and governors, do not anxiously ponder the manner or matter of your defence, nor what you are to say;
WEB: When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, don't be anxious how or what you will answer, or what you will say;
Young’s: 'And when they bring you before the
synagogues, and the rulers, and the authorities, be not anxious how or what ye
may reply, or what ye may say,
Conte (RC): And when they will lead you to the synagogues, and to magistrates and authorities, do not choose to be worried about how or what you will answer, or about what you might say.
12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues. This had a certain jurisdiction, with power to inflict minor penalties, in religious cases. 
and unto magistrates and powers. Terms which cover all sorts of government, civil and religious, Jewish or heathen. 
take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say. Your capacity to defend yourself well should be taken as a “given.” There is no need to torment yourself in any manner over it. [rw]
This does not prohibit the exercise of their faculties in the way of preparation to meet charges, so far as this was practicable without [anxiety] and loss of peace; but does forbid whatever would unfit them for calm and clear subserviency to the Holy Spirit. 
Weymouth: for the Holy Spirit shall teach you at that very moment what you must say."
WEB: for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that same hour what you must say."
Young’s: for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in
that hour what it behoveth you to say.'
Conte (RC): For the Holy Spirit will teach you, in the same hour, what you must say."
12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour [in that very hour, NKJV]. You’ll have the right words to say when you need it. Accept that and don’t worry about it. [rw]
what ye ought to say. They are not assured of deliverance from their peril, but “what they shall say” for the honor of the cause will not fail them. In the accounts of persecution in the Acts and Epistles—and in reading the testimony of Christian confessors and martyrs in subsequent ages--we can see how wonderfully common men and women were enabled to answer their accusers, whether they were saved from harm or not. 
Weymouth: Just then a man in the crowd appealed to Him. "Rabbi," he said, "tell my brother to give me a share of the inheritance."
WEB: One of the multitude said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
Young’s: And a certain one said
to him, out of the multitude, 'Teacher, say to my brother to divide with me the
Conte (RC): And someone from the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me."
12:13 And one of the company. One of the multitude. 
said unto him, Master, speak to my brother. Command my brother. 
This was the most foolish and unwarrantable [intervention] ever made to our Lord. The few words at once reveal to us an egotist incapable of caring for anything but his own selfishness. 
About the only good thing one can think to say about this needless interruption is that it indicates that his brother was, apparently, one who would accept Jesus’ intervention. However great an importance the domestic issue was to the particular man, of what value was it to the crowd that had come to hear Jesus speak on spiritual matters rather than act as a referee on family ones? [rw]
that he divide the inheritance with me. By the law, a double portion belonged to the firstborn. Deut. xxi. 17. The property was then equally divided among the rest. 
In depth: Which of the two brothers was in the wrong ? 1. Some think that his brother did him wrong, and that he appealed to Christ to right him, because he knew the law was costly. His brother was such a one as the Jews called Ben-hamesen -- "a son of violence," that took not only his own part of the estate, but his brother's too, and forcibly detained it from him. Such brethren there are in the world, who have no sense at all either of natural equity or natural affection.
2. Others think that he had a mind to do his brother wrong, and would have Christ to assist him; that, whereas the law gave the elder brother a double portion of the estate, and the father himself could not dispose of what he had but by that rule (Deuteronomy 21:16-17), he would have Christ to alter that law and oblige his brother, who perhaps was a follower of Christ, to divide the inheritance equally with him, share and share alike, and to allot him as much as his elder brother.
I suspect that this was the case, because Christ takes occasion from it to warn against covetousness--a desire of having more than God in His providence has allotted us. It was not a lawful desire of getting his own, but a sinful desire of getting more than his own.
Weymouth: "Man," He replied, "who has constituted me a judge or arbitrator over you?"
WEB: But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?"
Young’s: And he said to him,
'Man, who set me a judge or a divider over you?'
Conte (RC): But he said to him, "Man, who has appointed me as judge or arbitrator over you?"
12:14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? It is not My business to settle controversies of this kind. They are to be settled by the magistrate. Jesus came for another purpose--to preach the gospel and so to bring men to a willingness to do right. 
An allusion is made here to the language (almost the very same) of the Hebrew at the interference of Moses (Exodus 2:14) thus suggesting to His hearers that He was the "prophet like unto Moses" whom God would raise up (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22-23). 
judge. Without some judgment given in the case, no division could be made; therefore Jesus added the word "judge." 
Weymouth: And to the people He said, "Take care, be on your guard against all covetousness, for no one's life consists in the superabundance of his possessions."
WEB: He said to them, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses."
Young’s: And he said unto them, 'Observe, and
beware of the covetousness, because not in the abundance of one's goods is his
Conte (RC): So he said to them: "Be cautious and wary of all avarice. For a person's life is not found in the abundance of the things that he possesses."
12:15 And he said unto them. Turning the unwarranted interjection into an opportunity to give a moral lesson. [rw]
Take heed, and beware of covetousness. One of these brothers, no doubt, was guilty of this sin; and our Savior took occasion to warn His disciples of its danger. 
covetousness. An unlawful desire of the property of another; also, a desire of gain and riches beyond what is necessary for our wants. It is a violation of the tenth commandment (Exodus 20:17) and is expressly called idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Compare also Ephesians 5:3 and Hebrews 13:5. 
The better reading is “of all covetousness,” i.e. not only beware of avarice, but also of selfish possession. Both the Old and New Testament abound with repetitions of this warning. Balaam, Achan, Gehazi are awful examples of this sin in the Old Testament; Judas Iscariot, the Pharisees and Ananias in the New. See 1 Timothy 6:10-17. 
for a man's life. The word "life" is sometimes taken in the sense of happiness. Some have supposed this to be the meaning here; and that Jesus meant to say that a man's comfort does not depend on affluence; that is, on more than is necessary for his daily wants. But this meaning does not suit the parable following, which is designed to show that property will not lengthen out a man's life. The word "life," therefore, is to be taken literally. 
consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. i.e., a man’s true life—his zoe: his earthly natural life—his bios, is supported by what he has, but his zoe is what he is. Such phrases as that a man “is worth” so many thousands a year, revealing the current of worldly thought, shew how much this warning is needed. The order of words in this paragraph is curious. It is literally, “For not in any man’s abundance is his life (derived) from his possessions,” or (as De Wette takes it) “is his life a part of his possessions.” 
Weymouth: And He spoke a parable to them. "A certain rich man's lands," He said, "yielded abundant crops,
WEB: He spoke a parable to them, saying, "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly.
Young’s: And he spake a
simile unto them, saying, 'Of a certain rich man the field brought forth well;
Conte (RC): Then he spoke to them using a comparison, saying: "The fertile land of a certain wealthy man produced crops.
12:16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man. We have the portrait of a landowner whose farms do not seem to have been acquired by any unjust means. This man, after years of successful industry, having acquired great wealth, wholly devotes himself to it and to its further increase. He does not give himself up to excess or profligacy, but simply, body and soul, becomes the slave of his wealth; utterly, hopelessly selfish, he forgets alike God and his neighbor. 
In this parable (peculiar to St. Luke) our Lord evidently referred mentally to the story of Nabal, whose name means “Fool” or “Churl” (1 Samuel 25). Observe that his riches, like those of Nabal, were acquired, not by fraud or oppression, but in the most innocent way. His crime was his greedy and callous selfishness. He cares not for generous use, but for self-admiring acquisition. Being “a fool” his “prosperity destroyed him.” Proverbs 1:32. 
brought forth plentifully. His land was fertile and produced even beyond his expectations, and beyond what he had provided for. 
Weymouth: and he debated within himself, saying, "'What am I to do? for I have no place in which to store my crops.'
WEB: He reasoned within himself, saying, 'What will I do, because I don't have room to store my crops?'
Young’s: and he was reasoning within himself,
saying, What shall I do, because I have not where I
shall gather together my fruits?
Conte (RC): And he thought within himself, saying: 'What should I do? For I have nowhere to gather together my crops.'
12:17 And he thought within himself. The expression, that this man thought within himself, implies mental excitement and anxiety. He was perplexed, not as other men, to get wealth, but to dispose of it. 
saying, I have no room. Everything was full. 
where to bestow my fruits. Our word "fruits" is not applied to grain. But the Greek word is applied to all the produce of the earth, not fruit but also grain. This is likewise the old meaning of the English word, especially in the plural number. 
In depth: The story as a parable on self-centeredness . "What shall I do?" How well is it said that this question was proposed after he had "thought within himself!" Surely it was in himself, of himself and to himself. Self was its source; self was its end; self was its centre, and self was its circumference. "What shall I do?" How many answers to this inquiry might have come back, if only time had been given, from many an object of compassion, many an orphan, many a widow, many an ignorant family, many an avenue for doing good! But no such answer was wanted by him, and hence he soon reached the foregone conclusion--as certain to rise in such a heart with its ruling selfishness as a spark is to fly upward or a stone cast into the air to fall back upon the ground: "This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods."
Weymouth: "And he said to himself, "'This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and in them I will store up all my harvest and my wealth;
WEB: He said, 'This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
Young’s: and he said, This I will do, I will take
down my storehouses, and greater ones I will build, and I will gather together
there all my products and my good things,
Conte (RC): And he said: 'This is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build larger ones. And into these, I will gather all the things that have been grown for me, as well as my goods.
12:18 And he said, This I will do. It is a short speech, but it reveals character. The man's selfishness is shown in that he uses the pronoun "I" six times, and says nothing of anyone else. His covetous love of possessions is shown by the word "my", which he uses five times. Compare his words with those of Nabal at 1 Samuel 25:11. 
I will pull down my barns. His barns then are not, as they often were among the Jews, caves of the earth or rocks. They are tall buildings; but he must have still more spacious ones. 
He had no occasion to conceal his grain. He could look forward to no danger that was threatening him. 
barns. The Greek word rendered "barns" ( ἀποθήκας—whence our word "apothecary") has a broader signification than merely barns; it signifies store or warehouses of all kinds, thus suggesting that the hero of the story was more than a mere wealthy farmer—he was probably also a trader. 
and build greater [larger, ESV, NASB]. Not build more barns, but build bigger barns. More barns indicates needing space; larger barns argues that it is a form of bragging just how big and important he now is. Utilitarianism yields to blatant showmanship and ego. [rw]
and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. “All:” None of it for the poor and less fortunate. His words absolutely exclude the possibility. He is going to keep every single ounce for himself! He was under no obligation to give everything to the poor, but how does that justify giving nothing at all when he overflowed in abundance? [rw]
Weymouth: and I will say to my life, "'Life, you have ample possessions laid up for many years to come: take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.'
WEB: I will tell my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry."'
Young’s: and I will say to my soul, Soul, thou
hast many good things laid up for many years, be resting, eat, drink, be merry.
Conte (RC): And I will say to my soul: Soul, you have many goods, stored up for many years. Relax, eat, drink, and be cheerful.'
12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, for many years. How little did that poor fool, so wise in all matters of earthly business, suspect the awful doom was so close to him! He forgot Solomon's words, "Boast not thyself of to-morrow" (Proverbs 27:1). 
take thine ease. Be free from care about the future. Have no anxiety about provision for want. 
There is a passage much like this in the book of Ecclesiasticus (9:18-19), "There is that waxeth rich by his wariness and pinching, and this is the portion of his reward: Whereas he saith, I have found rest, and now will eat continually of my goods . . . ." 
eat, drink, and be merry. This was the doctrine of the ancient Epicureans. And it is, alas, too often the doctrine of those who are rich. They think that all that is valuable in life is to eat, and to drink, and be cheerful or merry. Hence their chief anxiety is to obtain the luxuries of the world; to secure the productions of every clime at any expense; and to be distinguished for splendid and luxurious living. What folly to forget that he has an intellect to be cultivated, a heart to be purified, a soul to be saved from eternal death! 
They snatch pleasure “for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32); he hopes to be “happy” for “many years.” For similar warnings see James 4:13-17, 5:1-3; Ecclesiastes 11:9. 
Weymouth: "But God said to him, "'Foolish man, this night your life is demanded from you; and these preparations--for whom shall they be?'
WEB: "But God said to him, 'You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared--whose will they be?'
Young’s: 'And God said to him, Unthinking
one! this night thy soul they shall require from thee,
and what things thou didst prepare -- to whom shall they be?
Conte (RC): But God said to him: 'Foolish one, this very night they require your soul of you. To whom, then, will those things belong, which you have prepared?'
12:20 But God said unto him. God may be represented as saying what he does. 
Thou fool. “Thou fool” to imagine that a man's comfort and peace can depend upon temporal things; or to suppose that these can satisfy the wishes of an immortal spirit! 
this night. In the very night in which he had finally settled all his plans, his soul was called into the eternal world! What a dreadful awakening of a soul, long asleep in sin! He is now hurried into the presence of his Maker; none of his worldly goods can accompany him, and he has not a particle of heavenly treasure! There is a passage much like this in the book of Ecclesiasticus, 11:18, 19, “There is that waxeth rich by his wariness and pinching, and this is the portion of his reward: Whereas he saith, I have found rest, and now will eat continually of my goods; and yet he knoweth not what time shall come upon him; and that he must leave those things to others, and die.” We may easily see whence the above is borrowed. 
thy soul shall be required of thee. The literal rendering of the Greek here is more solemn and impressive in its awful vagueness: This night they require thy soul of thee. Who are meant by they? Most likely the angels: not necessarily "avenging," as Trench would suggest; simply those angels whose special function it was to conduct the souls of the departed to their own place. So we read in the parable of Lazarus and Dives how angels carried the soul of Lazarus into Abraham's bosom. 
then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? Our Lord here reproduced the thought contained in passages with which no doubt he had been familiar from his boyhood. "Yea, I hated all my labor which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool?" (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19). "He heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them" (Psalms 39:6). 
Weymouth: "So is it with him who amasses treasure for himself, but has no riches in God."
WEB: So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Young’s: so is he who is treasuring up to himself,
and is not rich toward God.'
Conte (RC): So it is with him who stores up for himself, and is not wealthy with God."
12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself. This is the characteristic of the covetous man. He lives only for himself and acts only with regard to his own interest. 
Does not a man lay up for himself who spends two, three, five thousand dollars on his pleasure or his "style" and perhaps a hundred, perhaps less, in charity? 
and is not rich toward God. Rich with treasure laid up with God. Other interpretations are: rich in a way that pleases God, or rich in honorem Dei, for the advancement of God's glory. The last sense implies that the riches are literal, the first implies that they are spiritual. 
To be “rich toward God” is to do the things that please Him, so as to stand high in His gracious favor; which is “the treasure in heaven,” “the fruit that increaseth to your account” (Philippians 4:17; Romans 10:12). 
"In vain he amassed wealth who knows not how to use it."--St. Ambrose. 
We are often taught elsewhere in Scripture in what way we can be rich toward God. Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; James 2:5. There is a close parallel to this passage in Ecclus 11:18, 19. This would seem to shew that our Lord was not unfamiliar with some of the Apocryphal writings. 
Weymouth: Then turning to His disciples He said, "For this reason I say to you, 'Dismiss all anxious care for your lives, inquiring what you are to eat, and for your bodies, what you are to put on.'
WEB: He said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, don't be anxious for your life, what you will eat, nor yet for your body, what you will wear.
Young’s: And he said unto his disciples, 'Because
of this, to you I say, Be not anxious for your life, what ye may eat; nor for
the body, what ye may put on;
Conte (RC): And he said to his disciples: "And so I say to you: Do not choose to be anxious about your life, as to what you may eat, nor about your body, as to what you will wear.
12:22 And He said unto His disciples. As distinguished from the general public addressed in the previous section. 
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought. In older English, “thought” meant care, anxiety, trouble of mind: “Lest he take thought and kill himself.” --[Shakespeare], Julius Caesar. 
for your life. The word translated “life” is ambiguous. Meaning originally breath, then the principle of life, or the condition of being alive, it passed naturally into that of the “soul,” as the basis of sense and all animal functions. It might with equal propriety be translated here “soul,” as it is in verses 19, 20, regarded as the principle of the natural life. 
what ye shall eat. The contrast is likely between the food that must be consumed to maintain physical “life” and, what comes next, the clothes that are needed to cover the body not just for modesty but for work purposes as well. [rw]
neither for the body what ye shall put on. The material tenement in which the soul is housed, or organ through which the life acts and manifests itself. 
Weymouth: For life is a greater gift than food, and the body is a greater gift than clothing.
WEB: Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.
Young’s: the life is more than the nourishment, and the body than the clothing.
Conte (RC): Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.
12:23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Jesus does not deny that either is important, just that in comparison there is something even “more” important than those things that may first come to mind. By their very nature food and clothing are self-centered but there are also things beyond these and, actually, of even higher value for they shape our relationship with God and our preparation for eternity. [rw]
Weymouth: Observe the ravens. They neither sow nor reap, and have neither store-chamber nor barn. And yet God feeds them. How far more precious are you than the birds!
WEB: Consider the ravens: they don't sow, they don't reap, they have no warehouse or barn, and God feeds them. How much more valuable are you than birds!
Young’s: 'Consider the ravens, that they sow not,
nor reap, to which there is no barn nor storehouse,
and God doth nourish them; how much better are ye than the fowls?
Conte (RC): Consider the ravens. For they neither sow nor reap; there is no storehouse or barn for them. And yet God pastures them. How much more are you, compared to them?
12:24 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? Animals don’t plant crops nor reap them yet somehow they manage to get by. Except for a few very strange people, humans always think of themselves as better than such things, but even small ravens somehow land up having food to eat. If such “insignificant” parts of creation are so blessed, surely we humans are even more so! [rw]
Weymouth: And which of you is able by anxious thought to add a moment to his life?
WEB: Which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his height?
Young’s: and who of you, being anxious, is able to
add to his age one cubit?
Conte (RC): But which of you, by thinking, is able to add one cubit to his stature?
12:25 And which of you with taking thought [by worrying, NKJV] can add to his stature one cubit? Worry comes easy but what does it accomplish? For that matter what can it accomplish? It doesn’t make us taller. It doesn’t put food on the table. So what are we benefited by it? [rw]
Weymouth: If then you are unable to do even a very little thing, why be over-anxious about other matters?
WEB: If then you aren't able to do even the least things, why are you anxious about the rest?
Young’s: If, then, ye are not able for the least
-- why for the rest are ye anxious?
Conte (RC): Therefore, if you are not capable, in what is so little, why be anxious about the rest?
12:26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? These things are comparatively small. If you can’t independently do such “little” things, of what value is it to torment your hearts about even greater challenges? Let God do the “worrying;” be content with the obedience and assurance that God’s hand is working to help you. [rw]
Weymouth: Observe the lilies, how they grow. They neither labour nor spin. And yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was as beautifully dressed as one of these.
WEB: Consider the lilies, how they grow. They don't toil, neither do they spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Young’s: 'Consider the lilies, how do they grow?
they labour not, nor do they spin, and I say to you,
not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these;
Conte (RC): Consider the lilies, how they grow. They neither work nor weave. But I say to you, not even Solomon, in all his glory, was clothed like one of these.
12:27 Consider the lilies how they grow. There is no good reason to doubt that the word translated “lilies” was used to denote some species of the flower which we so name. We cannot tell which species of the liliaceous blossoms found in Palestine is intended, some of them exceedingly gorgeous in colors, and some of exquisite fragrance. These flowers, without care on their part, but by the Creator, just because He desires them so, are clothed in beauty and splendor. 
they toil not, they spin not. To provide for future needs; they take no thought for the morrow, but simply live as they were made to live. 
and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Solomon on state days was accustomed to sit upon an ivory throne arrayed in a white robe, and bearing in his hand an ivory sceptre; yet though invested in dazzling brightness, resembling the magnificent lily in its color [yet] "I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." 
Solomon’s “glory”/beauty was one accomplished by conscious effort; that of the lilies without effort, by the mere fact of their existence. Hence their’s could be said to exceed that of even mighty Solomon though they themselves have no real power at all. [rw]
Weymouth: But if God so clothes the vegetation in the fields, that blooms to-day and to-morrow will be thrown into the oven, how much more certainly will He clothe you, you men of feeble faith!
WEB: But if this is how God clothes the grass in the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith?
Young’s: and if the herbage in the field, that
to-day is, and to-morrow into an oven is cast, God doth so clothe, how much
more you -- ye of little faith?
Conte (RC): Therefore, if God so clothes the grass, which is in the field today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more you, O little in faith?
12:28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field. Even if the grass is clothed with the lilies of the field that provide it great beauty (verse 27), it is still transitory and passing. Far more so than that of even mortals because the death is faster and the “remains” are used as mere fuel and not treated with the respect that is expected of mortal remains. [rw]
and tomorrow is cast into the oven. In the absence of wood this is the usual method of heating ovens in the East [even in the 19th century]. 
how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? To be concerned was natural, especially for the poor. But there is a point where justified concern because obsession that does nothing to make the situation better and only makes us feel more miserable. [rw]
Did our Lord speak in pity or in anger? Perhaps in something of both. He probably saw them slow to accept the instruction which He was the more patiently trying to impress upon them; but He knew too well how hard it is to rise above our natural concern for the future welfare of our natural life, not to mingle sympathy with His displeasure. 
Weymouth: "Therefore, do not be asking what you are to eat nor what you are to drink; and do not waver between hope and fear.
WEB: Don't seek what you will eat or what you will drink; neither be anxious.
Young’s: 'And ye -- seek not what ye may eat, or
what ye may drink, and be not in suspense,
Conte (RC): And so, do not choose to inquire as to what you will eat, or what you will drink. And do not choose to be lifted up on high.
12:29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink. Don’t make it the center of your life. Important and vital as it is, there is always more to be concerned with as well—family, friends, God. Too great a concern with one part of life can land up destroying the relationship with the others. [rw]
neither be ye of doubtful [anxious, NKJV] mind. [Doubtful:] μετεωρίζεσθε -- Only here in New Testament. The verb primarily means to raise to a height; buoy up, as with false hopes; and so to unsettle, or excite, or keep in fluctuation. Thus Thucydides says of the war between Athens and Sparta: "All Hellas was excited (μετέωρος) by the coming conflict between the two chief cities" (ii., 8). 
Weymouth: For though the nations of the world pursue these things, as for you, your Father knows that you need them.
WEB: For the nations of the world seek after all of these things, but your Father knows that you need these things.
Young’s: for all these things do the nations of
the world seek after, and your Father hath known that ye have need of these
Conte (RC): For all these things are sought by the Gentiles of the world. And your Father knows that you have need of these things.
12:30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after. These things are matters of universal concern. No matter where you go, people will be just as occupied with such matters as you. So don’t fall into the trap that you—at least the collective “you” of the people you live among—are in any way different than every other nation. [rw]
and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. Whatever God does or does not do is not decided by ignorance on His part. He is fully aware of your needs and wants. He can give you bodily strength to provide them for yourselves. He can “open the door” of opportunity—but you have to be wise enough to walk through it. What He won’t do is let you sit there and have a “pity party” while ignoring whatever is within your own power to handle the situation. Even at creation, we read that “the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress [tend, NKJV] it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15)
Weymouth: But make His Kingdom the object of your pursuit, and these things shall be given you in addition.
WEB: But seek God's Kingdom, and all these things will be added to you.
Young’s: but, seek ye the reign of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
Conte (RC): Yet truly, seek first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added to you.
12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Note that God’s assistance is conditional upon your sitting your priorities right: have no spiritual concern, why should God “pull your hide out of the fire” when you have no interest in the things He regards as most important. But if you do have the right priorities, then God will act to assure that you have what you need. Not necessarily what you “want” but what you “need.” Maybe even the former as well—but of that we are given no guarantee. [rw]
Weymouth: "Dismiss your fears, little flock: your Father finds a pleasure in giving you the Kingdom.
WEB: Don't be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.
Young’s: 'Fear not, little flock, because your
Father did delight to give you the reign;
Conte (RC): Do not be afraid, little flock; for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.
12:32 Fear not, little flock. Another term of tender endearment addressed to His own who were grouped near Him. In the earlier part of this discourse (vet. 4) He had called them "my friends." 
Our Savior often represents Himself as a shepherd and His followers as a flock or as sheep. In Judea, it was a common employment to attend flocks. The shepherd was with them, defended them, provided for them. [Jesus'] flock was small. Few really followed Him, compared with the multitude who refused. 
1650s: Among the best Churches, the most [= largest] are the worst, as Philippians 3:18. Chrysostom could not find a hundred in Antioch that he could be well persuaded that they should be saved. 
for it is your Father's good pleasure. Though small in number, they were not to fear. God was their Friend. He would provide for them. 
to give you the kingdom. Now outsiders may attempt to destroy it by force or gain power in it by coercion (Matthew 11:12), but the only way God will consider you part of it is if you have submitted your heart to His Son, in which case He will happily give you entrance into it and the salvation that goes hand-in-hand. [rw]
Weymouth: Sell your possessions and give alms. Provide yourselves with purses that will never wear out, a treasure inexhaustible in Heaven, where no thief can come nor moth consume.
WEB: Sell that which you have, and give gifts to the needy. Make for yourselves purses which don't grow old, a treasure in the heavens that doesn't fail, where no thief approaches, neither moth destroys.
Young’s: sell your goods, and give alms, make to
yourselves bags that become not old, a treasure unfailing in the heavens, where
thief doth not come near, nor moth destroy;
Conte (RC): Sell what you possess, and give alms. Make for yourselves purses that will not wear out, a treasure that will not fall short, in heaven, where no thief approaches, and no moth corrupts.
12:33 Sell that ye have, and give alms. Instead of thought about what you are to get, rid yourselves of what you have of those things that distract your minds. By giving them as alms, they become not only no incumbrance, but a positive source of divine favor and eternal fruition. 
provide yourselves bags. “Money bags” (NKJV). Today we would probably speak of a wallet or a purse. [rw0]
which wax not old. All our garments wear out, even our wallets sooner or later. What we need are money “containers” that never wear out and through charity we can obtain them. Note the paradox: By giving away, we get to keep. [rw]
a treasure in the heavens that faileth not. Since God keeps track of it, the “treasure” has to be where He is—in heaven. [rw]
where no thief approacheth. For no thief will be permitted to dwell there. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither . . thieves, nor covetous . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). [rw]
neither moth corrupteth. Heaven is pictured as a place of endless life where we do not have to go through death again. Hence whatever causes decay will not be present, including the equivalent of moths that would destroy clothing. [rw]
Weymouth: For where your wealth is stored, there also will your heart be.
WEB: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Young’s: for where your treasure is, there also
your heart will be.
Conte (RC): For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. If all you want is on earth, that will be as far as you look for happiness. If what you value and wish for is found in heaven, then the “treasure” that brings full happiness is there as well. And because it is there, doing the things that prepare you for a life in those sacred precincts are the things that will bring peace and joy to your heart. [rw]
Weymouth: "Have your girdles on, and let your lamps be alight;
WEB: "Let your waist be dressed and your lamps burning.
Young’s: 'Let your loins be girded, and the lamps
Conte (RC): Let your waists be girded, and let lamps be burning in your hands.
12:35 Let your loins be girded about. This alludes to the ancient manner of dress. They wore a long flowing robe as their outer garment. When they labored or walked or ran, it was necessary to "gird" or tie this up by a sash or girdle about the body, that it might not impede their progress. Hence to gird up the loins means to be ready, be active, be diligent. Compare 2 Kings 4:29; 9:1; Jeremiah 1:17; Acts 12:8. 
To gird the loins was a sign of preparation for labor or a journey. 
and your lights burning. This expresses the same meaning. Be ready at all times to leave the world and enter into rest, when your Lord shall call you. Servants were expected to be ready for the coming of their lord. If in the night, they were expected to keep their lights trimmed and burning. This expression refers to the duty of servants when their master was away. 
Servants were expected to have their lights burning on the return of the master of the house, no matter at what hour he might come. So the Christian who was thus prepared for the coming of Christ, either at his individual death or at the end of all things, should be honored anew by the Lord for his fidelity. 
Weymouth: and be yourselves like men waiting for their master--on the look-out till he shall return from the wedding feast--that, when he comes and knocks, they may open the door instantly.
WEB: Be like men watching for their lord, when he returns from the marriage feast; that, when he comes and knocks, they may immediately open to him.
Young’s: and ye like to men waiting for their
lord, when he shall return out of the wedding feasts, that he having come and knocked,
immediately they may open to him.
Conte (RC): And let you yourselves be like men awaiting their lord, when he will return from the wedding; so that, when he arrives and knocks, they may open to him promptly.
12:36 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. Presumably this man had been a guest and since such wedding parties could run late, indeed, he might arrive back home at virtually any hour. Hence at least all the normal quota of servants that would be expected would need to be prepared to greet him until he was confirmed as safely back and home and in bed. All before they themselves could have any realistic hope of doing the same. [rw]
return from the wedding. Not come to it, as the parable of the Virgins. 
they may open unto him immediately. Their joy is to serve—“immediately.” Someone with a large staff would have specialized individuals for narrowly defined duties. One of these would be to greet him at the door. [rw]
Weymouth: Blessed are those servants, whom their Master when He comes shall find on the watch. I tell you in solemn truth, that He will tie an apron round Him, and will bid them recline at table while He comes and waits on them.
WEB: Blessed are those servants, whom the lord will find watching when he comes. Most certainly I tell you, that he will dress himself, and make them recline, and will come and serve them.
Young’s: 'Happy those servants, whom the lord,
having come, shall find watching; verily I say to you, that he will gird
himself, and will cause them to recline (at meat), and having come near, will
minister to them;
Conte (RC): Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he returns, will find being vigilant. Amen I say to you, that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, while he, continuing on, will minister to them.
12:37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching. He is going to give them a reward they did not expect and at a time when they would not expect it. (Returning from a wedding feast would surely be the last imaginable occasion for it!) The parallel to Jesus is this: The return of Jesus will be the public vindication of every claim to respect and authority He ever presented. Yet at this time, He will not be engaged in gloating and bragging (as mere mortals would)—but in rewarding those who had obeyed Him. [rw]
verily I say unto you, he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. Shall take the place of the servant himself. 
At the Roman Saturnalia the masters put on the servile dress and waited on and served their servants. As our Lord bases this parable upon the ancient relation of master and servant, so he uses this custom for an image to express the great honor he will confer upon his servants at the judgment day. 
Weymouth: And whether it be in the second watch or in the third that He comes and finds them so, blessed are they.
WEB: They will be blessed if he comes in the second or third watch, and finds them so.
Young’s: and if he may come in the second watch,
and in the third watch he may come, and may find it so, happy are those
Conte (RC): And if he will return in the second watch, or if in the third watch, and if he will find them to be so: then blessed are those servants.
12:38 And if He shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch. 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. 
and find them so. I.e., ready and prepared for their Lord’s return though He has come at a time when they would least expect it. [rw]
blessed are those servants. For they shall receive their honorable reward for their steadfast readiness to serve regardless of what hour of day or night it might be. [rw]
Weymouth: Of this be sure, that if the master of the house had known what time the robber was coming, he would have kept awake and not have allowed his house to be broken into.
WEB: But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not allowed his house to be broken into.
Young’s: 'And this know, that if the master of the
house had known what hour the thief doth come, he would have watched, and would
not have suffered his house to be broken through;
Conte (RC): But know this: that if the father of the family knew at what hour the thief would arrive, he would certainly stand watch, and he would not permit his house to be broken into.
12:39 And this know, that if the goodman [master, NKJV] of the house. The “good man” is not any definite, known one, but the one who stands for the whole class of careless, plundered people. The lesson of the implied parable is that, as the precise time of Christ’s advent cannot be known, unremitting vigilance and perpetual preparation are required. 
had known what hour the thief would come. It is noticeable how frequently the coming of the day of the Lord is compared, in all manner of forms, with the coming of the thief. (1 Thess. v. 2, 6-8; 2 Peter iii. 10; Rev. iii. 3, xvi. 15.) 
he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. He would have been prepared and kept it from happening. [rw]
Weymouth: Be you also ready, for at an hour when you are not expecting Him the Son of Man will come."
WEB: Therefore be ready also, for the Son of Man is coming in an hour that you don't expect him."
Young’s: and ye, then, become ye ready, because at
the hour ye think not, the Son of Man doth come.'
Conte (RC): You also must be prepared. For the Son of man will return at an hour that you will not realize."
12:40 Be ye therefore ready also. Two different examples show the reasonableness of the admonition: so will they be willing to heed what logic tells them they should? [rw]
for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Lange says, "The point of comparison is the perfect surprise; and the figure has its application not only to the end of the world, but also to the hour of death, and to those tragical catastrophes which occur in the history of nations, as well as in the lives of individuals." 
Weymouth: "Master," said Peter, "are you addressing this parable to us, or to all alike?"
WEB: Peter said to him, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everybody?"
Young’s: And Peter said to him,
'Sir, unto us this simile dost thou speak, or also unto all?'
Conte (RC): Then Peter said to him, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or also to everyone?"
12:41 Then Peter said unto Him. Peter’s [conversations] with his Lord seems to have been peculiarly frank and fearless, in accordance with his character. In the immaturity of the disciples we may suppose that the blessing on the faithful servants mainly prompted his question. But if so the lesson of our Lord was by no means lost on him, 1 Peter 5:3. 
Lord, speakest Thou this parable unto us, or even to all? The parable was probably that which was spoken (verses 35-38), rather than the half-expressed comparison in verse 39. Considering that Jesus had been long speaking, sometimes to Pharisees, to lawyers, to the multitude, to His disciples, Peter might naturally be at a loss whether this portion of it was addressed specially to all actual or possible disciples, or to the doubly chosen twelve. The question may have expressed some curiosity—not without a shade of assumption—whether the apostles would really be distinguished “in the regeneration” (Matthew 19:28), above the mass of believers, according to verse 37. 
Weymouth: "Who, then," replied the Lord, "is the faithful and intelligent steward whom his Master will put in charge of His household to serve out their rations at the proper times?
WEB: The Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times?
Young’s: And the Lord said, 'Who, then, is the
faithful and prudent steward whom the lord shall set over his household, to
give in season the wheat measure?
Conte (RC): So the Lord said: "Who do you think is the faithful and prudent steward, whom his Lord has appointed over his family, in order to give them their measure of wheat in due time?
12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household. The Saviour answers not directly, but by a certain question sets Peter and all to consider what was becoming to His servants of apostolic rank; and especially to one to whom, as to Peter, a certain pre-eminence had been already assigned. 
whom his lord shall make ruler over his household. [The] master is here supposed to be absent for a prolonged stay, and to be testing certain servants, by placing them in charge over fellow-servants during this period; that, on his return, he may be able to give all his affairs into the hands of the one who has proved himself worthy. The question, therefore, says, in effect, to Peter: Instead of asking whether that parable is spoken to you, ask yourselves, rather, what qualities each of you apostles should exhibit in his position as a steward over my household; and especially thou, Peter, in order to meet with honor at my return. 
household. θεραπείας -- From its original meaning of waiting on, attendance (Luke 9:11), it comes to mean the retinue of attendants; the body of household servants. 
to give them their portion of meat in due season? At the appointed time for distributing rations. 
To do this punctually and well required the steward to be “faithful,” and the faithfulness supposes prudence. He must be “wise” to see what is needed and to have ready in supply the requirement for constantly recurring needs, and dispense everything so equitably that all concerned shall be satisfied, and the work of the place go forward efficiently. 
Weymouth: Blessed is that servant whom his Master when He comes shall find so doing.
WEB: Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes.
Young’s: Happy that servant, whom his lord, having
come, shall find doing so;
Conte (RC): Blessed is that servant if, when his Lord will return, he will find him acting in this manner.
12:43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. That is, prudently and faithfully administering the important business entrusted to him. 
Weymouth: I tell you truly that He will put him in authority over all His possessions.
WEB: Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has.
Young’s: truly I say to you, that over all his
goods he will set him.
Conte (RC): Truly I say to you, that he will appoint him over all that he possesses.
12:44 Of a truth I say unto you. I.e., undoubtedly this is what will happen. [rw]
that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. The talent which he has manifested and cultivated shall have scope for its eternal exercise in a nobler, happier sphere. 
Weymouth: But if that servant should say in his heart, 'My Master is a long time in coming,' and should begin to beat the menservants and the maids, and to eat and drink, drinking even to excess;
WEB: But if that servant says in his heart, 'My lord delays his coming,' and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken,
Young’s: 'And if that servant may say in his
heart, My lord doth delay to come, and may begin to beat the men-servants and
the maid-servants, to eat also, and to drink, and to be drunken;
Conte (RC): But if that servant will have said in his heart, 'My Lord has made a delay in his return,' and if he has begun to strike the men and women servants, and to eat and drink, and to be inebriated,
12:45 But and if that servant say in his heart. The disgrace and punishment of the servant who, in his place as a steward, is neither faithful nor wise, will be as conspicuous and miserable as the reward of the other is blessed and glorious. 
My lord delayeth his coming. Another intimation that Jesus may tarry long—so long that His apostle, or other minister, may forget that he is himself only a steward, and act as if he were master of the place. 
and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken. Shall mistreat those beneath his authority and to abuse his leadership position by such things as using free access to the liquor stocks to get drunk. In short, to abuse both others and his own position. [rw]
Weymouth: that servant's Master will come on a day when he is not expecting Him and at an hour that he knows not of, and will punish him severely, and make him share the lot of the unfaithful.
WEB: then the lord of that servant will come in a day when he isn't expecting him, and in an hour that he doesn't know, and will cut him in two, and place his portion with the unfaithful.
Young’s: the lord of that servant will come in a
day in which he doth not look for him, and in an hour that he doth not know,
and will cut him off, and his portion with the unfaithful he will appoint.
Conte (RC): then the Lord of that servant will return on a day which he hoped not, and at an hour which he knew not. And he will separate him, and he will place his portion with that of the unfaithful.
12:46 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. He is taken completely unaware. There have been no forewarnings for he appears on a day when he’s unexpected. Furthermore, even the specific hour is unknown to the servant until it actually arrives. If this is a powerful individual, then one would expect word to reach his destination in advance of his arrival. To the horror of the servant, it doesn’t. He has been negligent and he has been caught. It does not require a genius to realize that wrath is about to pour out on his back. Wrath fully earned and deserved. [rw]
cut him in sunder. A punishment not unknown in the East. Cf. Hebrews 11:37, "sawn asunder;" 1 Samuel 15:33; Daniel 2:5. 
and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. The mention of “unbelievers” tells us that the “household” he was over was one of believers and that he has thorough abused his position among them. As the result, his destiny is with those who make no pretense of belief in any form. An ominous warning for abusive church leaders. [rw]
Weymouth: And that servant who has been told his Master's will and yet made no preparation and did not obey His will, will receive many lashes.
WEB: That servant, who knew his lord's will, and didn't prepare, nor do what he wanted, will be beaten with many stripes,
Young’s: 'And that servant, who having known his
lord's will, and not having prepared, nor having gone according to his will,
shall be beaten with many stripes,
Conte (RC): And that servant, who knew the will of his Lord, and who did not prepare and did not act according to his will, will be beaten many times over.
12:47 And that servant. In Luke only, and serving as an apology [= defense] for the severity of the punishment as described in verse 46. That punishment presupposes anger. The statement now made is to the effect: penalty inflicted not as passion dictates but, as principle demands. 
which knew his lord's will. Who knew what his master wished him to do. He that knows what God commands and requires. 
and prepared not himself. A case of negligence and not ignorance. [rw]
neither did according to His will. For emphasis, his knowledge of the right thing to do is repeated. In short, there is no question but that he is a knowledgeable believer who thought he could somehow be acceptable even if he ignored his unquestionable obligations and responsibilities. [rw]
shall be beaten with many stripes. Shall be severely and justly punished. They who have many privileges, who are often warned, shall be far more severely punished than others. 
Exceptional privileges if rejected involve exceptional punishment, 10:13; James 4:17; 2 Peter 2:21. 
Weymouth: But he who had not been told it and yet did what deserved the scourge, will receive but few lashes. To whomsoever much has been given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been entrusted, of him a larger amount will be demanded.
WEB: but he who didn't know, and did things worthy of stripes, will be beaten with few stripes. To whoever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.
Young’s: and he who, not having known, and having
done things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few; and to every one to
whom much was given, much shall be required from him; and to whom they did
commit much, more abundantly they will ask of him.
Conte (RC): Yet he who did not know, and who acted in a way that deserves a beating, will be beaten fewer times. So then, of all to whom much has been given, much will be required. And of those to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be asked.
12:48 But he that knew not. i.e. that knew not fully (Jon 4:11; 1 Timothy 1:13) for there is no such thing as absolute moral ignorance (Romans 1:20, 2:14, 15). 
Ignorance of the law [is] part of the guilt of those violating it. Though he knew it not, yet he is guilty (Leviticus 5:17). All ignorance of that which a man is [supposed] to know, and may know, is willful and will be punished. Conscience in the heathen leaves them without excuse (Romans 1:19-20). 
and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. The Jews did not inflict more than forty stripes for one offense (Deuteronomy 25:3). For smaller offences they inflicted only four, five, six, etc., according to the nature of the crime. In allusion to this, our Lord says that he "that knew not"--that is, he who had comparatively little knowledge--shall suffer a punishment proportionally light. He refers, doubtless, to those who have fewer opportunities, smaller gifts, or more ignorant or fewer teachers. 
Theophylact says, "Here some object, saying, He is deservedly punished, who knowing the will of his Lord, pursues it not; but why is the ignorant punished? Because, when he might have known, he would not, but being himself slothful, was the cause of his own ignorance." 
Or: A most important passage as alone clearly stating that punishment shall be only proportional to sin, and that there shall be a righteous relation between the amount of the two. They who knew not will not of course be punished for any involuntary ignorance, but only for actual misdoing. 
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. The
first century Jewish religious leadership as we have it depicted in the New
Testament, viewed their (alleged) greater knowledge and piety as a “gravy
ticket” to get their way and to be arrogant.
Jesus warns against such among His own people: If they are “given” much--knowledge or
responsibility--they are obligated to take pains to use it constructively. Or to say the same thing in different words: whoever had had much knowledge or
responsibility “committed” to them, they have the obligation to use it for both
their own benefit and every one else’s.
In the kingdom there are no sinecures; only positions of working
Weymouth: "I came to throw fire upon the earth, and what is my desire? Oh that it were even now kindled!
WEB: "I came to throw fire on the earth. I wish it were already kindled.
Young’s: 'Fire I came to cast to the earth, and
what will I if already it was kindled?
Conte (RC): I have come to cast a fire upon the earth. And what should I desire, except that it may be kindled?
12:49 I am come. He does not mean that He sought and desired it; but that, such was the state of the human heart, such the opposition to the truth, that that would be the effect of His coming. See Matthew 10:34. 
to send fire on the earth. Fire, here, is the emblem of discord and contention, and consequently of calamities. Thus it is used in Psalms 66:12; Isaiah 43:2. 
This element is used frequently in Scripture as the emblem of trouble and confusion. Is. ix. 5; Ps. lxvi. 12. 
and what will I, if it be already kindled [and how I wish it were already kindled, NKJV]? However much it was necessary for this to happen, He wishes it were already done and over with. In other words, He looked forward to it out of obligation and duty and not out of joy and happiness. [rw]
In depth: the meaning of “fire on the earth” . The meaning of this verse is quite obscure. In the first place, the translation of the original is difficult. Some of the various renderings which have been proposed are:
“I came to put fire in the earth; and what wish I more, since it is already kindled?” (Wakefield)
“I am come to send fire to this land; and what do I wish—that it were already kindled?” (Alford)
“How much do I wish that it were already kindled!” (Shedd)
“What do I wish? Would that it were already kindled!” (Van Oosterzee)
By comparing these renderings it will be seen, disregarding minor differences, that one class of them represents the fire as already kindled and the Savior as asking what He wishes more since this object of His coming is accomplished. The other, that the fire was not yet kindled, and what he wished was that it might be. The common version and the Bible Union, which agree substantially with it, represent the kindling as hypothetically accomplished—“what will I, if it be already kindled?”—meaning, I suppose, “If this object of my coming has been attained, what will I do next?” “What remains to be done?” Or, as Wakefield, “what wish I more?”
It appears, then, that the weight of authority is about balanced, and that the original will bear either rendering; and from this, that we can not determine from the structure of the sentence whether the fire was yet kindled or not.
Can we now determine this from the subject matter? Unfortunately the difficulties here are also very great. The word “fire,” which must control the meaning, is of course metaphorical, and we are left in uncertainty as to which of its properties is referred to. Fire illuminates, warms, consumes, and, as a consequence of its consuming power, it purifies. But which of these properties are we to understand as alluded to in the text?
Bengel answers: “A fire to be desired, a fire of spiritual warmth.” Alford: “The fire is the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Barnes: “Fire here is the emblem of discord and contention, and consequently of calamities.” Scott: “Bitter and furious persecution.”
Van Oosterzee: “The extraordinary movement of mind which Christ should bring to pass when His Gospel should everywhere be proclaimed. As fire has on the one hand, a warming and purifying, but on the other a dissolving and destroying force, not otherwise is it with the manifestation of Christ, of which the Gospel bears testimony. It is, however, by no means to be denied that the Savior has in mind the latter rather than the former side of the fact.”
For myself, I do not think “the gift of the Holy Spirit” is meant, because (1) that was to be the result, not of Christ’s coming, but of His returning (John 16:7); (2) the phrase “on the earth” seems to include all classes and characters, whereas the gift of the Spirit was limited to one class. I think, therefore, that the view of Van Oosterzee, given above, is substantially correct.
The influence of the Savior’s teaching and works had already kindled a fire in the public mind, which would yet blaze out and burn with increasing intensity. At any rate, it seemed to be sufficiently kindled, and if so—if the appearances were not deceptive—if the truth had really taken hold of the popular heart, then that part of His mission was accomplished. 
Weymouth: But I have a baptism to undergo; and how am I pent up till it is accomplished!
WEB: But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!
Young’s: but I have a baptism to be baptized with,
and how am I pressed till it may be completed!
Conte (RC): And I have a baptism, with which I am to be baptized. And how I am constrained, even until it may be accomplished!
12:50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with. An experience of sufferings to be endured, comparable to nothing so well as to immersion in a flood of distress. 
and how am I straitened [distressed, NKJV] till it be accomplished! Jesus would do His duty but He recognized how painful and humiliating the coming events of His betrayal and death would be and wish it were already accomplished. [rw]
Weymouth: Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? No, I tell you that I came to bring dissension.
WEB: Do you think that I have come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.
Young’s: 'Think ye that
peace I came to give in the earth? no, I say to you,
but rather division;
Conte (RC): Do you think that I have come to give peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but division.
12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? Are ye so mistaken as to think that all will be quietness and harmony among men, as the result of My mission? Yet the end was to be peace (Luke 1:79; 2:14). 
I tell you, Nay; but rather division. Not the object, but [the] necessary consequence of Christ's coming. 
Weymouth: For from this time there will be in one house five persons split into parties. Three will form a party against two and two will form a party against three;
WEB: For from now on, there will be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
Young’s: for there shall be henceforth five in one
house divided -- three against two, and two against three;
Conte (RC): For from this time on, there will be five in one house: divided as three against two, and as two against three.
12:52 For from henceforth. From the date of His resurrection, which is just at hand. For ages after Christ, this prediction was a literal description of facts; and not a year has elapsed until now, in which it did not apply to certain instances of hatred on the part of relatives toward followers of Christ. Yet while He is the occasion of all this, it is not His spirit which hates and contends, but which rather suffers hatred and opposition, for His name’s sake, at the hands of those otherwise nearest and dearest. 
there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. Which argues that the proportion of believers in a given household might actually be substantial, but that having it accepted by all would be the exception rather than the rule. [rw]
Weymouth: father against son and son against father; mother attacking daughter and daughter her mother, mother-in-law her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law her mother-in-law."
WEB: They will be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against her mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
Young’s: a father shall be divided against a son,
and a son against a father, a mother against a daughter, and a daughter against
a mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and a daughter-in-law
against her mother-in-law.'
Conte (RC): A father will be divided against a son, and a son against his father; a mother against a daughter and a daughter against a mother; a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."
12:53 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. Jesus here shows the hard plight of the disciple. If he were the young son he would find his father against him, and if he were the aged father he would be persecuted by the boy whom he had raised. 
The verse seems to be a distinct allusion to Micah 7:6. There is in the Greek a delicate change of phrase which can hardly be reproduced in English. It is “father against son,” where the preposition takes the dative; but in “mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law” the preposition takes the accusative;--perhaps to indicate the difference in the relationships, the one natural, the other legal. 
Weymouth: Then He said to the people also, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, 'There is to be a shower;' and it comes to pass.
WEB: He said to the multitudes also, "When you see a cloud rising from the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming,' and so it happens.
Young’s: And he said also to the multitudes, 'When
ye may see the cloud rising from the west, immediately ye say, A shower doth
come, and it is so;
Conte (RC): And he also said to the crowds: "When you see a cloud rising from the setting of the sun, immediately you say, 'A rain cloud is coming.' And so it does.
12:54 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. The cloud which rose out of the west, on the side of the Mediterranean Sea lying on the west of the whole Jewish territory, was regarded as a sign of approaching rain (1 Kings xviii. 44). 
They were quick to note the indications of coming weather, and to interpret them, so as to regulate their conduct prudently. 
Weymouth: And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, 'It will be burning hot;' and it comes to pass.
WEB: When a south wind blows, you say, 'There will be a scorching heat,' and it happens.
Young’s: and when -- a south wind blowing, ye say,
that there will be heat, and it is;
Conte (RC): And when a south wind is blowing, you say, 'It will be hot.' And so it is.
12:55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. The south wind from the great wilderness of Sinai and hot deserts of Arabia, lying to the south of the Jewish territory, was considered as a sign of heat to be expected (Job 37:17), and the people accordingly either housed their hay and corn or threw it abroad, and equipped themselves for a journey, according as they foresaw the weather would be. 
Weymouth: Vain pretenders! You know how to read the aspect of earth and sky. How is it you cannot read this present time?
WEB: You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but how is it that you don't interpret this time?
Young’s: hypocrites! the
face of the earth and of the heaven ye have known to make proof of, but this
time -- how do ye not make proof of it?
Conte (RC): You hypocrites! You discern the face of the heavens, and of the earth, yet how is it that you do not discern this time?
12:56 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? You see My miracles; you hear My preaching; you have the predictions of Me in the prophets. Why do you not, in like manner, infer that this is the time when the Messiah should appear? 
You can successfully judge the world around you and get it right. Yet the spiritual and moral matters--in which you claim to be experts!—you get all wrong! How can that possibly be? Jesus doesn’t bother to provide an answer. Any that can be given will be uncomplimentary and automatically rejected. So if they are ever going to understand their problem, they are going to have to come to the conclusion on their own. [rw]
Weymouth: "Why, too, do you not of yourselves arrive at just conclusions?
WEB: Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?
Young’s: 'And why, also, of yourselves, judge ye
not what is righteous?
Conte (RC): And why do you not, even among yourselves, judge what is just?
12:57 Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? By consulting with your own consciences, which would, if rightly dealt with, tell you, that I am that Messiah you have so long looked for. 
The frame of reference is even broader than Messianic matters for we have repeatedly seen Jesus tangle with them on behavioral and moral matters as well. Their fundamental problem was far deeper than mere “anti-Jesus as Messiah” bias. [rw]
Weymouth: For when, with your opponent, you are going before the magistrate, on the way take pains to get out of his power; for fear that, if he should drag you before the judge, the judge may hand you over to the officer of the court, and the officer lodge you in prison.
WEB: For when you are going with your adversary before the magistrate, try diligently on the way to be released from him, lest perhaps he drag you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.
Young’s: for, as thou art going away with thy
opponent to the ruler, in the way give diligence to be released from him, lest
he may drag thee unto the judge, and the judge may deliver thee to the officer,
and the officer may cast thee into prison;
Conte (RC): So, when you are going with your adversary to the ruler, while you are on the way, make an effort to be freed from him, lest perhaps he may lead you to the judge, and the judge may deliver you to the officer, and the officer may cast you into prison.
12:58 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 yourself with God, as you would with one whom you had alienated, before the otherwise inevitable consequences ensue.” 
with thine adversary. Spiritual application: God, by our rebellion, has become our adversary. We owe Him a debt, which we can never pay: a debt of obedience and of punishment. 
The adversary stands for the law of God, under the condemnation of which we are, on account of our sins, a condemnation from which nothing but the intervention of the Saviour could deliver us; the way stands for the brief period of our probation; the judge is the Son of man, at His coming; the officer is the judicial agent (Matt. xxv. 31); the prison is hell. 
as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him. The trial has already been arranged for. The only question is what will be the outcome. Hence act to change the outcome or the retribution will be inevitable. The spiritual application is: Reconcile yourself with God while you are still alive because afterwards it is going to be too late to change anything. Your ultimate destiny is only decided when you become a “sealed book” by dying--for then it is too late to change any of the evidence in your favor or against you. [rw]
lest he hale [drag, NKJV] thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. According to the supposition of the parable, the creditor had the right to seize his delinquent debtor where he might find him, take him before a magistrate, and, on proving his case, have him condemned to imprisonment until the claim was satisfied. The details of the application may be variously filed out; but the lesson is perfectly obvious. 
Weymouth: Never, I tell you, will you get free till you have paid the last farthing."
WEB: I tell you, you will by no means get out of there, until you have paid the very last penny."
Young’s: I say to thee, thou mayest
not come forth thence till even the last mite thou mayest
Conte (RC): I tell you, you will not depart from there, until you have paid the very last coin."
12:59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite. Mite is lepton (minutum), the smallest of all coins, Mark 12:42. If it be asked, “Can this ever be paid?” the answer of course is, as far as the parable is concerned, “it depends entirely on whether the debt be great or small.” As far as the application of the parable is concerned, the answer lies out of the contemplated horizon of the illustration, nor is there any formal answer to it. But if it be asserted that no man’s debt to God, which he has incurred by his sins, however “common to man,” can ever be paid by him, we are at least permitted to find hope in the thought that Christ has paid our debt for us (Matthew 20:28; 1 Timothy 2:6). The general lesson is that of which Scripture is full, “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found,” Isaiah lv 6; Psalms 32:6; Hebrews 4:7. 
In depth: Efforts to deduce Purgtory or assured eternal life for all out of this verse . Theologians in different ages and of varied schools have made much of the concluding sentence [verse 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.
(with number code)
1 = Adam Clarke. The New Testament . . . with a Commentary and
Critical Notes. Volume I: Matthew to the Acts. Reprint, Nashville,
Tennessee: Abingdon Press.
2 = Marvin R. Vincent. Word Studies in the New Testament. Volume I:
The Synoptic Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Epistles of Peter, James,
and Jude. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1887; 1911 printing.
3 = J. S. Lamar. Luke. [Eugene S. Smith, Publisher; reprint, 1977 (?)]
4 = Charles H. Hall. Notes, Practical and Expository on the Gospels;
volume two: Luke-John. New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1856,
5 = John Kitto. Daily Bible Illustrations. Volume II: Evening Series:
The Life and Death of Our Lord. New York: Robert Carter and
6 = Thomas M. Lindsay. The Gospel According to St. Luke. Two
volumes. New York: Scribner & Welford, 1887.
7 = W. H. van Doren. A Suggestive Commentary on the New Testament:
Saint Luke. Two volumes. New York: D. Appleton and Company,
8 = Melancthon W. Jacobus. Notes on the Gospels, Critical and
Explanatory: Luke and John. New York: Robert Carter &
Brothers, 1856; 1872 reprint.
9 = Alfred Nevin. Popular Expositor of the Gospels and Acts: Luke.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Ziegler & McCurdy, 1872.
10 = Alfred Nevin. The Parables of Jesus. Philadelphia: Presbyterian
Board of Publication, 1881.
11 = Albert Barnes. "Luke." In Barnes' Notes on the New Testament.
Reprint, Kregel Publications, 1980.
12 = Alexander B. Bruce. The Synoptic Gospels. In The Expositor's
Greek Testament, edited by W. Robertson Nicoll. Reprint, Grand
Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
13 = F. Godet. A Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke. Translated
from the Second French Edition by E. W. Shalders and M. D. Cusin.
New York: I. K. Funk & Company, 1881.
14 = D.D. Whedon. Commentary on the Gospels: Luke-John. New
York: Carlton & Lanahan, 1866; 1870 reprint.
15 = Henry Alford. The Greek Testament. Volume I: The Four Gospels.
Fifth Edition. London: Rivingtons, 1863.
16 = David Brown. "Luke" in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and
David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the
Old and New Testaments. Volume II: New Testament. Hartford:
S. S. Scranton Company, no date.
17 = Dr. [no first name provided] MacEvilly. An Exposition of the Gospel
of St. Luke. New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886.
18 = H. D. M. Spence. “Luke.” In the Pulpit Commentary, edited by H. D.
M. Spence. Reprinted by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,
19 = John Calvin. Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists,
Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Translated by William Pringle. Reprint,
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
20 = Thomas Scott. The Holy Bible ...with Explanatory Notes (and)
Practical Observations. Boston: Crocker and Brewster.
21 = Henry T. Sell. Bible Studies in the Life of Christ: Historical and
Constructive. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1902.
22 = Philip Vollmer. The Modern Student's Life of Christ. New York:
Fleming H. Revell Company, 1912.
23 = Heinrich A. W. Meyer. Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the
Gospels of Mark and Luke. Translated from the Fifth German
Edition by Robert Ernest Wallis. N. Y.: Funk and Wagnalls,
1884; 1893 printing.
24 = John Albert Bengel. Gnomon of the New Testament. A New
Translation by Charlton T. Lewis and Marvin R. Vincent.
Volume One. Philadelphia: Perkinpine & Higgins, 1860.
25 = John Cummings. Sabbath Evening Readers on the New Testa-
ment: St. Luke. London:Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co,1854.
26 = Walter F. Adeney, editor. The Century Bible: A Modern
Commentary--Luke. New York: H. Frowdey, 1901. Title page
missing from copy.
27 = Pasquier Quesnel. The Gospels with Reflections on Each Verse.
Volumes I and II. (Luke is in part of both). New York: Anson
D. F. Randolph, 1855; 1867 reprint.
28 = Charles R. Erdman. The Gospel of Luke: An Exposition.
Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1921; 1936 reprint.
29 = Elvira J. Slack. Jesus: The Man of Galilee. New York: National
Board of the Young Womens Christian Associations, 1911.
30 = Arthur Ritchie. Spiritual Studies in St. Luke's Gospel. Milwaukee:
The Young Churchman Company, 1906.
31 = Bernhard Weiss. A Commentary on the New Testament. Volume
Two: Luke-The Acts. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company,1906.
32 = Matthew Henry. Commentary on the Whole Bible. Volume V:
Matthew to John. 17--. Reprint, New York: Fleming H. Revell
Company, no date.
33 = C. G. Barth. The Bible Manual: An Expository and Practical
Commentary on the Books of Scripture. Second Edition.
London: James Nisbet and Company, 1865.
34 = Nathaniel S. Folsom. The Four Gospels: Translated . . . and with
Critical and Expository Notes. Third Edition. Boston: Cupples,
Upham, and Company, 1871; 1885 reprint.
35 = Henry Burton. The Gospel according to Luke. In the Expositor's
Bible series. New York: A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1895.
36 = [Anonymous]. Choice Notes on the Gospel of S. Luke, Drawn from
Old and New Sources. London: Macmillan & Company, 1869.
37 = Marcus Dods. The Parables of Our Lord. New York: Fleming H.
Revell Company, 18--.
38 = Alfred Edersheim. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.
Second Edition. New York: Anson D. F. Randolph and Company,
39 = A. T. Robertson. Luke the Historian in the Light of Research.
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920; 1930 reprint.
40 = James R. Gray. Christian Workers' Commentary on the Old and
New Testaments. Chicago: Bible Institute Colportage Associat-
ion/Fleming H. Revell Company, 1915.
41 = W. Sanday. Outlines of the Life of Christ. New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1905.
42 = Halford E. Luccock. Studies in the Parables of Jesus. New York:
Methodist Book Concern, 1917.
43 = George H. Hubbard. The Teaching of Jesus in Parables. New
York: Pilgrim Press, 1907.
44 = Charles S. Robinson. Studies in Luke's Gospel. Second Series.
New York:American Tract Society, 1890.
45 = John Laidlaw. The Miracles of Our Lord. New York: Funk &
Wagnalls Company, 1892.
46 = William M. Taylor. The Miracles of Our Saviour. Fifth Edition.
New York: A. C. Armstrong & Son, 1890; 1903 reprint.
47 = Alexander Maclaren. Expositions of Holy Scripture: St. Luke.
New York: George H. Doran Company, [no date].
48 = George MacDonald. The Miracles of Our Lord. New York:
George Routledge & Sons, 1878.
49 = Joseph Parker. The People's Bibles: Discourses upon Holy Scrip-
ture—Mark-Luke. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 18--.
50 = Daniel Whitby and Moses Lowman. A Critical Commentary and
Paraphrase on the New Testament: The Four Gospels and the Acts
of the Apostles. Philadelphia: Carey & Hart, 1846.
51 = Matthew Poole. Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1600s.
52 = George R. Bliss. Luke. In An American Commentary on the New
Testament. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society,
53 = J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. The Fourfold Gospel.
54 = John Trapp. Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1654.
55 = Ernest D. Burton and Shailer Matthews. The Life of Christ.
Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1900; 5th reprint,
56 = Frederic W. Farrar. The Gospel According to St. Luke. In “The
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges” series. Cambridge: At
the University Press, 1882.