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Luke 12:1-12

Fear God, Not People

12:1 Meanwhile, 1  when many thousands of the crowd had gathered so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus 2  began to speak first to his disciples, “Be on your guard against 3  the yeast of the Pharisees, 4  which is hypocrisy. 5  12:2 Nothing is hidden 6  that will not be revealed, 7  and nothing is secret that will not be made known. 12:3 So then 8  whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered 9  in private rooms 10  will be proclaimed from the housetops. 11 

12:4 “I 12  tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, 13  and after that have nothing more they can do. 12:5 But I will warn 14  you whom you should fear: Fear the one who, after the killing, 15  has authority to throw you 16  into hell. 17  Yes, I tell you, fear him! 12:6 Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? 18  Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 12:7 In fact, even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid; 19  you are more valuable than many sparrows.

12:8 “I 20  tell you, whoever acknowledges 21  me before men, 22  the Son of Man will also acknowledge 23  before God’s angels. 12:9 But the one who denies me before men will be denied before God’s angels. 12:10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the person who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit 24  will not be forgiven. 25  12:11 But when they bring you before the synagogues, 26  the 27  rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you should make your defense 28  or what you should say, 12:12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment 29  what you must say.” 30 

1 tn The phrase ἐν οἷς (en Jois) can be translated “meanwhile.”

2 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

3 tn According to L&N 27.59, “to pay attention to, to keep on the lookout for, to be alert for, to be on your guard against.” This is another Lukan present imperative calling for constant vigilance.

4 sn See the note on Pharisees in 5:17.

5 sn The pursuit of popularity can lead to hypocrisy, if one is not careful.

6 tn Or “concealed.”

7 sn I.e., be revealed by God. The passive voice verbs here (“be revealed,” be made known”) see the revelation as coming from God. The text is both a warning about bad things being revealed and an encouragement that good things will be made known, though the stress with the images of darkness and what is hidden in vv. 2-3 is on the attempt to conceal.

8 tn Or “because.” Understanding this verse as a result of v. 2 is a slightly better reading of the context. Knowing what is coming should impact our behavior now.

9 tn Grk “spoken in the ear,” an idiom. The contemporary expression is “whispered.”

10 sn The term translated private rooms refers to the inner room of a house, normally without any windows opening outside, the most private location possible (BDAG 988 s.v. ταμεῖον 2).

11 tn The expression “proclaimed from the housetops” is an idiom for proclaiming something publicly (L&N 7.51). Roofs of many first century Jewish houses in Judea and Galilee were flat and had access either from outside or from within the house. Something shouted from atop a house would be heard by everyone in the street below.

12 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

13 sn Judaism had a similar exhortation in 4 Macc 13:14-15.

14 tn Grk “will show,” but in this reflective context such a demonstration is a warning or exhortation.

15 sn The actual performer of the killing is not here specified. It could be understood to be God (so NASB, NRSV) but it could simply emphasize that, after a killing has taken place, it is God who casts the person into hell.

16 tn The direct object (“you”) is understood.

17 sn The word translated hell is “Gehenna” (γέεννα, geenna), a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). This was the valley along the south side of Jerusalem. In OT times it was used for human sacrifices to the pagan god Molech (cf. Jer 7:31; 19:5-6; 32:35), and it came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish were disposed of and burned. In the intertestamental period, it came to be used symbolically as the place of divine punishment (cf. 1 En. 27:2, 90:26; 4 Ezra 7:36).

18 sn The pennies refer to the assarion, a small Roman copper coin. One of them was worth one sixteenth of a denarius or less than a half hour’s average wage. Sparrows were the cheapest thing sold in the market. God knows about even the most financially insignificant things; see Isa 49:15.

19 sn Do not be afraid. One should respect and show reverence to God (v. 5), but need not fear his tender care.

20 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

21 tn Or “confesses.”

22 tn Although this is a generic reference and includes both males and females, in this context “men” has been retained because of the wordplay with the Son of Man and the contrast with the angels. The same is true of the occurrence of “men” in v. 9.

23 sn This acknowledgment will take place at the judgment. Of course, the Son of Man is a reference to Jesus as it has been throughout the Gospel. On Jesus and judgment, see 22:69; Acts 10:42-43; 17:31.

24 sn Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit probably refers to a total rejection of the testimony that the Spirit gives to Jesus and the plan of God. This is not so much a sin of the moment as of one’s entire life, an obstinate rejection of God’s message and testimony. Cf. Matt 12:31-32 and Mark 3:28-30.

25 tn Grk “it will not be forgiven the person who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit.”

26 sn The saying looks at persecution both from a Jewish context as the mention of synagogues suggests, and from a Gentile one as the reference to the rulers and the authorities suggests.

sn See the note on synagogues in 4:15.

27 tn Grk “and the,” but καί (kai) has not been translated since English normally uses a coordinating conjunction only between the last two elements in a series of three or more.

28 tn Grk “about how or what you should say in your defense,” but this is redundant with the following clause, “or what you should say.”

29 tn Grk “in that very hour” (an idiom).

30 tn Grk “what it is necessary to say.”

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