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Luke 12:37-40

Context
12:37 Blessed are those slaves 1  whom their master finds alert 2  when he returns! I tell you the truth, 3  he will dress himself to serve, 4  have them take their place at the table, 5  and will come 6  and wait on them! 7  12:38 Even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night 8  and finds them alert, 9  blessed are those slaves! 10  12:39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief 11  was coming, he would not have let 12  his house be broken into. 12:40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” 13 

1 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 7:2.

2 tn Or “watching”; Grk “awake,” but in context this is not just being awake but alert and looking out.

3 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

4 tn See v. 35 (same verb).

5 tn Grk “have them recline at table,” as 1st century middle eastern meals were not eaten while sitting at a table, but while reclining on one’s side on the floor with the head closest to the low table and the feet farthest away.

6 tn The participle παρελθών (parelqwn) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

7 sn He…will come and wait on them is a reversal of expectation, but shows that what Jesus asks for he is willing to do as well; see John 13:5 and 15:18-27, although those instances merely foreshadow what is in view here.

8 sn The second or third watch of the night would be between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. on a Roman schedule and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on a Jewish schedule. Luke uses the four-watch schedule of the Romans in Acts 12:4, so that is more probable here. Regardless of the precise times of the watches, however, it is clear that the late-night watches when a person is least alert are in view here.

9 tn Grk “finds (them) thus”; but this has been clarified in the translation by referring to the status (“alert”) mentioned in v. 37.

10 tn Grk “blessed are they”; the referent (the watchful slaves, v. 37) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 sn On Jesus pictured as a returning thief, see 1 Thess 5:2, 4; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15.

12 tc Most mss (א1 A B L Q W Θ Ψ 070 Ë1,13 33 Ï lat syp,h sams bo) read “he would have watched and not let” here, but this looks like an assimilation to Matt 24:43. The alliance of two important and early mss along with a few others (Ì75 א* [D] e i sys,c samss), coupled with much stronger internal evidence, suggests that the shorter reading is authentic.

13 sn Jesus made clear that his coming could not be timed, and suggested it might take some time – so long, in fact, that some would not be looking for him any longer (at an hour when you do not expect him).



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