12:57 “And 1 why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 12:58 As you are going with your accuser before the magistrate, 2 make an effort to settle with him on the way, so that he will not drag you before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, 3 and the officer throw you into prison. 12:59 I tell you, you will never get out of there until you have paid the very last cent!” 4
1 tn Jesus calls for some personal reflection. However, this unit probably does connect to the previous one – thus the translation of δέ (de) here as “And” – to make a good spiritual assessment, thus calling for application to the spiritual, rather than personal, realm.
2 sn The term magistrate (ἄρχων, arcwn) refers to an official who, under the authority of the government, serves as judge in legal cases (see L&N 56.29).
3 sn The officer (πράκτωρ, praktwr) was a civil official who functioned like a bailiff and was in charge of debtor’s prison. The use of the term, however, does not automatically demand a Hellenistic setting (BDAG 859 s.v.; K. H. Rengstorf, TDNT 8:539; C. Maurer, TDNT 6:642).
sn This cent was a lepton, the smallest coin available. It was copper or bronze, worth one-half of a quadrans or 1/128 of a denarius. The parallel in Matt 5:26 mentions the quadrans instead of the lepton. The illustration refers to the debt one owes God and being sure to settle with him in the right time, before it is too late. Some interpreters, however, consider it to be like Matt 5:26, which has similar imagery but a completely different context.