jtrhart

Luke 12:22-34; Part I

In bible on May 4, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Here is Luke 12:22-34:

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This passage is similar to the one found in Matthew 6:19-34. There are a few differences though.

  • Luke includes v26, If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?, in speaking about worrying adding one hour to your life. This seemed somewhat humorous to me. Basically Jesus says the ability to add an hour to our lifespan is just a small matter.
  • Luke says in v30 that all the nations of the world seek after these things, whereas Matthew says Gentiles seek after these things. Not a huge difference but it’s interesting to note that there isn’t anyone exempt from the statement “all nations”.
  • The biggest difference is in the endings. Matthew ends with a command to be anxious about nothing but Luke adds a bit more, saying that we should be without fear for God delights to give us the kingdom. Then Luke concludes in the same way that Matthew began in vv.19-24, telling us not to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven and that we cannot serve two masters; we either serve God or money.
  • Oh and one last thing, in v33 Luke’s account includes a command for us to sell our possessions and give to the needy

possessions

I’m going to post another part to this and talk more about this command but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. I’ve never met a believer that had sold all of their possessions so either we’re all disobeying this command or there is another way this is meant to be interpreted. What do you think?

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  1. I think that the statement that the latter verses are a command to sell ALL your possessions and give them all to the poor cannot be definitively supported from the text. I would note that the text says, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor,” not sell all or give all. The particular absence of “all” in the command to give to the poor supports the notion of giving some, not all, of your possessions to the poor. In a somewhat semantic and argumentative vein, one could point out that to take this command to mean “give ALL your possessions to the poor” would be to countermand the orders to give a tenth of your possessions to the Lord, to render unto Cesar that which is Cesar’s, to honor your father and mother with money when appropriate, etc.
    I would suggest, rather that the interpretation should be determined incontext with the apparent overarching thesis, i.e. We should love and prioritize Godly things above earthly things. The logical end of the divestiture argument has indeed been followed in the monastic and ascetic traditions. However, such traditions are problematic when viewed in the light of scripture. Abraham, whom Christ placed positively in heaven, was notably wealthy, as were Joseph, Isaac, Jacob, David, Daniel, and many others. Paul notes as well that he had learned to live in rich and poor circumstances. Further, the absence of Pauline or other apostolic repetition, elaboration, or emulation in new testament scriptures suggests that the apostles did not understand this command to mean all.
    I think that in context it should be understood as a command to love others, especially the poor, and as love is an action, not just emotion or words, that would include giving to others what you have yourself. I believe this view is supportable from the whole spectrum of scripture, though as always, I caveat this by saying that I could be entirely wrong, as is more ususal.

  2. anonymous67 – that is a great explanation of this passage. I appreciate your pulling in other commands that Christ gave in a way that supports your interpretation. It would seem that if we interpret this passage as a command to sell all your possessions, this would go against other commands to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing when you give.

    In addition to the O.T. characters you referenced, we also have references to N.T. believers who were wealthy enough to own homes capable of housing the church when they assembled.

    Thanks again (even though I’m not sure I have reason to post Part II of this posting now…)

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