Outline of the Gospel of Luke ~ Chapter 12
I. Instruction in the Light of Rejection, Luke 12:1-19:27.
1. Concerning hypocrisy, Luke 12:1-12.
2. Concerning covetousness, Luke 12:13-34.
3. Concerning faithfulness, Luke 12:35-48.
4. Concerning division and signs, Luke 12:49-59.
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1. Concerning hypocrisy, Luke 12:1-12.
These final teachings of Jesus before He arrived at the Cross includes in Chapter 12, four mandates:
a. Beware of living as a hypocrite, vs. 1-3.
b. Do not fear physical pain; fear God, vs. 4-7.
c. Confess the Son of Man openly, boldly, and freely, vs. 8-10.
d. Do not become distracted about defending yourself; God will stand in your defense, vs. 11-12.
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a. Beware of living as a hypocrite, vs. 1-3.
Luke 12:1, “Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
“Under these circumstances,” means while the Pharisees and Scribes hunted Jesus down like a wild animal, He continued to reprove and rebuke them, but He changes His audience first to the disciples and then to people.
“Many thousands” is the Noun MURIAS the means, “myriad, (ten thousand), a vast number, or innumerable.” From this we see that Jesus’ popularity was increasing tremendously. On this occasion there were so many people that they began to “step upon one another,” the Verb KATAPATEO, καταπατέω that means, “trample on, tread underfoot, or treat with disdain.” This term is only used five times in the NT, Mat 5:13; 7:6; Luke 8:5; 12:1; Heb 10:29. In each of its other usages, it has a negative connotation of rejection. So, here it seems like the crowds were getting a bit restless and harming one another either physically or with their words. We could say they were “tripping over each other,” and the mob mentality of chaos was ensuing.
As we have seen time and time again, Jesus is not impressed with numbers. We know this because the Lord never preaches to please crowds, and He often leaves the crowds to be with His small group of disciples. That is what Jesus does here, as upon seeing the raucous in the crowds, He turned to His disciples and gives them a command to “beware,” which is the Present, Active, Imperative of the Verb PPROSECHO, προσέχω that is a command to, “be attentive, give heed to, be concerned about, etc.” The thing He is warning them about is the “leaven of the Pharisees,” ZUME HO PHARISAIOS.
ZUME is the Greek word for what we call “yeast” or that which “ferments.” It is used literally in the NT, and figuratively for defilement, impurity, sin, and evil, or sometimes for good as in Mat 13:33. Its backdrop is found in the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the OT, Ex 12:18-20; 13:6f.; Num 28:16f.
In our passage, as in Mat 16:6, 11-12; Mark 8:15, Jesus is warning the disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. As you may know, yeast (leaven) causes things to rise. Leaven is an expanding agent; its nature is to grow. Likewise, as you add it to a lump of dough it will eventually affect the entire loaf. So here, instead of a growth that led to spiritual maturity, the Pharisees’ leaven, (false teaching and doctrines), was based on hypocrisy and led to spiritual immaturity and the destruction of true spiritual vitality.
So here, leaven stands for false teaching, hypocrisy, and irreligious living. A sinner or a false teacher can spread defilement through an entire community. So, just as a Jewish household at times took strict precautions to remove every particle of leaven from the house, likewise Christians should remove false teachers, false doctrines, and sin from their lives.
Mat 16:6, 11-12, “And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”… 11“How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
In our passage, it is a warning against the false teachings of the Pharisees which Jesus calls “hypocrisy,” HUPOKRISIS that means, “hypocrisy, pretense, or insincerity.” It is from HUPO, “by,” and KRINO, “judge.” It was used in ancient Greek for actors “playing a part on stage,” and assumed the meaning of “pretense,” which is the unreality and deception associated with acting.
“The hypocrite is one who, consciously or unconsciously, has sacrificed truth to appearance: he is more taken up with what people think of him than with the actual state of his soul; he is so busy living up to his reputation that he has no time to be himself; he must always be justifying himself to others, to himself, or to God,” (Caird, Pelican New Testament Commentaries, Luke, p. 160).
In its Biblical use, Howard Marshall notes, “HUPOKRISIS is usually concerned with inconsistency between actions, or between (hidden or partially hidden) motives and (overt) actions. Generally speaking, the inconsistency is between something that can be regarded as good and something else that can be regarded as evil. Several times the aim of the outward actions seems to be simply to gain applause, but in a significant number of cases it is fair to conclude that there is an element of deceit, in that a person pretends to be doing something when he is really doing something else, or is doing something that is apparently good but that springs from false motives, such as the desire to gain human applause rather than Divine approval, or to take advantage of other people by acquiring a false reputation for trustworthiness.” (I. Howard Marshall, Honorary Research Professor of New Testament, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, “Who is a Hypocrite”)
Therefore, HUPOKRISIS generally characterizes a form of behavior that shows a clash either:
a) Between a person’s professed desire to please God and behavior that is inconsistent with it, or
b) Between a person’s hidden evil intentions and his or her appearance of holiness or virtue.
As such, hypocrites try to conceal their true identity and their secret sins by wearing a “mask.” That was the main problem with the Pharisees. Externally their conduct may seem very pious and upright, but it is all an act. The hypocrite is never the person he or she pretends to be. Regarding the Pharisees, any “righteousness” they had was merely superficial and external pomp which served to disguise their true nature. Cf. Mat 23:28; Mark 12:15; Gal 2:13; 1 Tim 4:1-2; 1 Peter 2:1.
Mat 23:28, “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Mark 12:15, ““Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at”.”
Gal 2:13, “The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.”
1 Tim 4:1-2, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.”
1 Peter 2:1, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”
As such, hypocrisy is saying one thing but doing another. It is living a double life. It is moral inconsistency. It is when people praise God with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. Therefore, we are to be on guard against the hypocrites that pervasively, gradually, and unperceptively seek to lead you away from your true relationship with God. And we are to guard ourselves from becoming hypocrites regarding our relationship with God.
In addition, hypocrisy is not only lying, but it is folly, because the problem with hypocrisy is that it spreads like yeast that affects the entire loaf, 1 Cor 5:6, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.” This form of folly does not go unrevealed by God, because truth will always come to the surface.
Turning to vs. 2-9, we see that they are paralleled in Mat 10:26-33. In vs. 2-7, our Lord instructs us to not be worried about the self-righteous hypocrites who could harm us, but instead trust whole-heartedly in God.
Luke 12:2, “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”
This verse is a similar warning that Jesus gave in Luke 8:17; Mat 10:26; Mark 4:22, where all things will come to light.
Mat 10:26, “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”
Mark 4:22, “For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light.”
Luke 8:17, “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”
This is our Lord’s logical reasoning for why we should not be hypocrites in our relationship with God or in life in general. The fact is, one day all will be judged by God, and the false heart, false doctrines, and false teachings will be revealed for what they are, while the truth will become evident also.
“Covered up,” is the Perfect, Passive, Participle of SUNKALUPTO that means, “to cover completely,” and is only used here in the NT. It is an emphatic Verb that carries the idea of secrecy and disguise. Here, Jesus says that these hidden or disguised things, (the false teachings of the Pharisees), will be “revealed,” APOKALUPTO that means, “to reveal, uncover, or disclose.” In other words, the falsehoods of false teachers will be exposed one day.
The double emphasis is seen using KRUPTOS, “hidden, secret, or concealed,” and GINOSKO, “made known, made aware, perceived, understood, etc.” Eventually all false teaching will be exposed for what it is and all false hearts will be revealed too. Therefore, it is folly and futile to think that you can put on a façade before God regarding your relationship with Him. It is a waste of time and effort. As the saying goes, “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.” You can whitewash a tomb, but it still has dead man’s bones in it.
As such, we should always strive to be honest and forthright with integrity within our souls, and make sure we are listening to the truth of God’s Word rather than the falsehoods of man-made religion or any other cosmic viewpoint that is counter to the Word of God, because the fact is, you cannot get away with falsehoods, lies, and deceptions, eventually it will all be under the bright and illuminating light of God’s holy and righteous judgment. Therefore, that which man or religion tries to “cover up, will be revealed,” and that which they try to “hide, will be made known.”
Luke 12:3, “Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
Here, our Lord triples and quadruples down on the analogy of the falsehoods of the Pharisees being revealed, as they will be shown for what they are; lies, falsehoods, and evil. Or Lord goes from things covered and hidden to words spoken under false pretenses and secrecy.
“Said in the dark,” the Aorist, Active, Indicative construction of EIPON EN HO SKOTOS, with the Future, Passive, Indicative construction of, “will be heard in the light,” AKOUO EN HO PHOS.
This first analogy compares saying and hearing with dark and light. Dark or darkness is a metaphor for evil, sin, wickedness, and evil scheming. It is a form of covering as it were, because things are not illuminated when they are in darkness. In fact, darkness is the absence of light. Light on the other hand, is a metaphor for holiness and righteousness, the things of God. Therefore, secrets and dark corners conceal sin and give cover to evil intentions and the wicked schemes or plans of man that one day will be heard in the light of God’s holy and righteous judgment.
Then we have “what you have whispered in the inner rooms.” The Greek literally says, “What you spoke in the ear in the private rooms,” that uses, the Noun TAMEION for “inner room, hidden or secret room.” “Speaking in the ear,” is analogous to a whisper, a quiet and subtle form of persuasion, gaining the confidence of the unsuspecting. A whisper can be both a persuasive action towards the one you are whispering to, and a secret sharing of an evil scheme against another. In both cases, it is a subtle influencing of falsehoods that will be revealed by God for all to see and know as it, “will be proclaimed upon the housetops,” KERUSSO EPI HO DOMA. KERUSSO means, making a public announcement or proclamation. So, whatever falsehoods are said privately, will be known to all for what they are; lies and hypocrisy. In the end, when the Messiah returns in power to eradicate evil, hypocrisy will have proved futile, and truth will eventually expose sin.
Rom 2:16, “On the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”
Therefore, we are told to be on guard against the pervasive, gradual, imperceptible spread of hypocrisy, which had corrupted the Pharisees, because, “one day our lives will be shown on the big screen of God’s judgment. It will be a split screen. On one side will be the life we showed the world. On the other side will be the life we tried to hide. If they are the same, then we have integrity. We are true disciples—true to God, true to self, and true to others. But if the two screens show different pictures, then we will be condemned as hypocrites. It will be shouted from the rooftop of heaven. So, we have to ask ourselves—every one of us who claims to be a disciple: Am I a hypocrite? Do I fear God’s judgment? Fearing the searching, all-seeing judgment of God is the first step in cultivating the fear of the Lord.” (Christ-Centered Exposition).
“When the kingdom of God comes, however, everything will be exposed to the light of divine truth. All secrets will be revealed, every heart exposed to open examination, all intentions presented for public scrutiny. If one lives the life of a phony, it will become known.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary).
The second mandate of Chapter 12 is:
Luke 12:4, “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.”
“My Friends,” PHILOS, “friend or loved ones,” addresses His disciples and believers. This is the intimate relationship the disciple of Jesus has with Him from His perspective, and is antithetical to the hostility and hatred of the Pharisees toward Him and His disciples.
“Do not be afraid,” is the Greek negative ME with the Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive of the Verb PHOBEO that in this context is a command that means do not, “fear, be afraid, become terrified, etc.”
The ones we are not to fear are, “those who kill the body,” APOKTEINO HO SOMA. This is speaking about those who persecute you all the way to physical death because of your faith in God and Jesus; as Jesus was facing in a few days from now.
The reason you do not fear them is because “after that they have no more that they can do.” In other words, they can torture and kill the body, but they have no power over your eternal soul and spirit.
It is not comforting to know people can torture you and kill you, until you understand the temporal nature of their actions, especially compared to the eternal actions of God, as noted next.
Luke 12:5, “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!”
Jesus is reminding them of the One who does have power over their bodies, souls, and spirits; God. He points to the One to whom true fear, respect, reverence, and awe is to be offered.
Instead of “I warn you” this could read, “I will show you,” as it uses the Future, Active, Indicative of the Verb HUPODEIKNUMI, ὑποδείκνυμι that means, “show plainly, point out, give direction, warn, set forth, or inform.” Luke uses it five times in Luke 3:7; 6:47; 12:5; Act 9:16; 20:35. It is only otherwise used by Matthew once in Mat 3:7. Its use in Classical Greek includes, “to show by tracing out, to set a pattern or example, to teach, to indicate, to give a glimpse of, to indicate one’s will, intimate, lay out information, report, bring to the notice of, produce evidence, etc.” Because of the graveness of this topic “whom to fear,” we see this as a warning from Christ.
Then, Jesus tells them who they truly should “fear,” PHOBEO, which is used three times in this verse. It is used in both its negative sense as above, and its positive sense of “respect, reverence, and worship,” where the negative aspect of being afraid takes the lead meaning. That is because God is the One who has “authority,” EXOUSIA, “authority to rule and power to do something,” which is to cast you into “hell,” GEHENNA, γέεννα, “Gehenna or hell.” This is the only time Luke uses this term. James uses it once also, James 3:6, Matthew uses it 7 times, and Mark 3 times, Mark 9:43-47.
Gehenna is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew words for “Valley of Hinnom”, (GE HINNOM), a ravine to the south and southwest of Jerusalem. It was a place that had been used for infant sacrifices to the God Molech, 2 Chron 28:3; 33:6, Jer 32:35, and therefore was repulsive to the Jews. Josiah attempted to prevent its use in this way in 2 Kings 23:10, but apparently its reputation continued. In addition, Jeremiah labeled it as a place of future judgment, Jer 7:32; 19:6.
The idea of a place, of which this valley was an analogy, for punishment after death was developed in the intertestamental period. Therefore, it symbolizes God’s eternal judgment and punishment of the unbeliever. As a place of punishment for both the body and soul, Gehenna differs from Hades, which is only a temporary place of punishment. Thus, Gehenna refers to the Eternal Lake of Fire, the place of final judgment, Rev 20:13-15.
“Originally geenna, or gehenna, was the name of a valley south of Jerusalem. Gê Hinnōm (Hebrew) equals Hinnom Valley (cf. Joshua 15:8; 18:16). Thus, the Greek word has its origin in this Hebrew expression (cf. Aramaic gê Hinnām). The valley itself was the site of child sacrifice during the time of King Ahab and Manasseh. There children were sacrificed to Molech. King Josiah declared the place unclean, and later it was referred to as the place of the dead. The form Gaienna is found in the Septuagint of Joshua 18:16, but it is not found in secular Greek writings. In the Old Testament the Valley of Hinnom was, to some extent, viewed as a symbol of Israel’s apostasy from or rejection of God. As stated above, it was a site where offerings and sacrifices were made to Molech (2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 32:35). As a result of this association with apostasy, both the place and the word became associated with God’s punishment and judgment (Jeremiah 7:32; 19:6). Later Judaism associated God’s judgment of His people with the Valley of Hinnom.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary).
As such, Jesus teaches the reality of hell unambiguously, and His second command is: Do not be afraid of people and what they can do to you, because their ability to cause harm is temporal. Instead, fear God, who can and will hold people accountable for their sins for all of eternity.
“God, as the only perfectly righteous being in the universe, has the sole authority to judge sin and then condemn the sinner. The religious leaders in Jerusalem had claimed that right and exercised it liberally to maintain their hold on power, but they had no moral authority. Because Jesus shares real authority with the Father, He could speak against their hypocrisy with confidence.” (Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary).
This also reminds us that when someone is killed because of their relationship with Christ, they are called a martyr and will receive the Crown of Martyrdom at the BEMA judgment seat of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we are told that God has the ultimate power over any person. God has made the flesh and soul of man, and He alone has the authority, (EXOUSIA), to decree eternal damnation. Satan was never given this “power;” in fact, he too will be judged and sentenced to the same eternal punishment facing those who reject God.
That is why Heb 10:31 states, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
As such, Jesus does not guarantee protection from death but affirms that:
1) God alone controls the final destiny of men, and people should “fear” Him rather than those who can merely inflict physical death, vs. 5.
2) God is intimately aware of all that befalls us.
In concluding this section, we are given a call to assurance.
Luke 12:6, “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.” Cf. Mat 10:29.
“Sparrow” is the Noun STROUTHION, στρουθίον that is only used in this narrative, here and Mat 10:29-31, where two are sold for one cent. It was a bird that was considered to have very little value. In our passage “five,” PENTE, are “sold,” POLEO, “for two cents,” DUO ASSARION that was a small copper coin. In these passages, Jesus is contrasting the world’s value system with God’s as noted in the second half of this passage.
“Yet not one of them is forgotten before God,” that uses the Perfect Middle Participle of the Verb EPILANTHANOMAI, ἐπιλανθάνομαι that means, “forget, overlook, or neglect.” In essence it means, “to not recall.” Yet, God has each of us in His very mind consistently.
The point is, if God does not “forget” the sparrows, how much more will He not neglect His people’s needs, especially in the spiritual realm? If God cares so much for the sparrows, how much more does He care for you! The meaning of this is clear, fear and reverence before God results in His constant care and attention. Therefore, God does everything He can to give the truth of His Word to His people and protect them for the hypocrisy of false religion.
Therefore, God will do everything possible to give us the truth of His Word and keep us from the hypocrisy of false teachers and doctrines. Unfortunately, it is people’s negative volition towards God that leads them to false teaching and keeps them there.
Luke 12:7, “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
The “hairs,” THRIX, “of your head,” KAPHALE “are all numbered,” ARITHEMEO, means that God keeps track of every detail of your life and the life of others. He knows exactly when, where, and why someone is acting hypocritical or with integrity. Nothing escapes His notice.
In the analogy of the sparrows, God also knows your every need in life, in both the physical and spiritual realm. As such, He promises to provide for your every need, as our Lord says, “Do not fear (PHOBEO); you are more valuable (DIAPHERO) than many sparrows.” Being more valuable or carrying more weight in God’s eyes than the birds of the air or any other animal, He will care for us and provide what we need, as also noted in Mat 6:26; 10:31; 12:12; Luke 12:24.
Mat 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
Mat 12:12, “How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Therefore, sparrows, vs. 6, and hairs, vs. 7, are so insignificant that this kind of argument, (from a lesser to a greater), points to the supreme worth of the disciples in God’s eyes, and His love and care for them. And all of this is given to us so that we do not have fear of what people can do to us or say about us, especial the Self-righteous religious leaders who could have us killed. Instead, we are to trust in God for all things and situations.
The fear of God is our holy reverence for the Lord that consists of trembling before His holiness, yet rejoicing in His love. We are not to be afraid of God in His love, but we are to have the utmost respect for who He is and what He can and will do.
The confidence gained from trusting the Lord and being liberated from the bondage of worldly fear enables the believer to become an effective witness for Christ, i.e., “preaching from the roof tops.” As such, we must cultivate fear for God’s coming judgment, and we must cultivate fear of God’s very person.
While death is a part of life in this fallen creation, even the plight of sparrows and the hairs on our head do not escape the compassionate care of our Creator. Consequently, we His disciples, whom He values far more than birds, can rest assured that He will take note of our suffering; whatever it may be. Because, nothing escapes His omniscient attention, not even details about ourselves that we do not even notice. Our loving God and creator cares for each of us worthless birds; yet not one of us is forgotten. Therefore, take courage in Him and walk faithfully each and every day!
c. Confess the Son of Man openly, boldly, and freely, vs. 8-10. Vs. 8-9, are paralleled in Mat 10:32-33.
As I prepare this message for our Sunday service, it is with a heavy heart because this past Wednesday, April 22, 2020, my father passed and was brought home by our Lord to eternal glory. Because of the current epidemic of the Corona Virus in our nation and throughout the world, we are unable to have a wake, funeral, or memorial service, which is a part of the normal grieving process. But, as you know, we are not the only ones experiencing the loss of a loved one, as many thousands of families in our nation and around the world are losing loved ones every day. In fact, we lost my cousin Nicole just a couple of weeks ago, Joe Jackson from our church lost his grandfather, who was also a wonderful godly man, and many others have and will experienced the same. So, it is a difficult time in many ways including the loss of loved ones.
Nevertheless, even though we grieve and mourn the loss of our loved ones, we also rejoice! We rejoice in the fact and knowledge that our loved ones, who have believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, are now at home, face to face with our Lord, in eternal glory. This is the promise that our great God has given to all who believe, John 3:16, 36; 6:40; 11:25.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 3:36, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
John 6:40, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
John 11:25, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies’.”
These promises are what led Paul to state in 1 Cor 13:12; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:21-24, regarding His eternal future.
1 Cor 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
2 Cor 5:8, “We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
Phil 1:21-24, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”
As I sat to prepare for this service, I was at a loss as to what to teach upon, especially in the light of not being able to have a memorial service for my father. So, I prayed, and then went back to the lessons we have been studying in the Gospel of Luke and was reminded by the Holy Spirit of the next message in our progression through this gospel, Luke 12:8-10. As usual, it was the perfect message and once again I was at awe of our great God. Since we have not had services this past week, I did not teach on the next topic as planned. Yet, our heavenly Father has known from eternity past that that would be the case and knew that it would be there for our service this morning. You see, in these three verses, we have the message of believing in Jesus Christ for salvation and praising Him during our lives here on earth, with the added blessing of being glorified in heaven when we arrive there upon our death. It also has the warning for those who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior.
Luke 12:8, “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God.”
In this passage, we see the blessing we receive because of our faithfulness towards Jesus Christ. This faithfulness in Christ is stated in the phrase, “confess Me before men,” which uses the Verb HOMOLOGEO in the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive. It means, “to agree, confess, profess, admit, acknowledge, promise, or praise.” It comes from LEGO and HOMOS that literally means, “to say the same thing.” The same thing we are saying in this case, is what God has said, “believe in My Son for salvation,” as noted in the verses above.
The Aorist tense, views the entirety of the action of the believer professing and praising Jesus. The Active voice is for the individual believer to perform the action of acknowledging Jesus as his Savior. The Subjunctive mood is for the potential; the potential that some will do this and others will not.
Many take this passage as meaning we have to publicly acknowledge Jesus as our Savior in order to be saved. But that is taking it to the extreme, as this word is also used in 1 John 1:9, for the naming of our sins to God, and does not mean naming our sins in a public forum. Although, there is nothing wrong with publicly acknowledging Jesus as your Savior, which I recommend all believers should do, we also know that it is not a stipulation for salvation, because it would be an addition to faith for salvation, and easily could become a “work” for salvation, as some apply it.
So, what does this mean, “confess Me before men?” This speaks of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in that we are bold and confident to tell others that He is our Lord and Savior. We cannot lose the context of what came prior in vs. 4-5, where our Lord encouraged us to not fear man and instead stand boldly in our faith in God, trusting in Him.
In the NT “confession” carries the sense of “promise or agree.” It is also used in Heb 13:15, in the sense of praise. Therefore, it means we agree with what God has told us and we glorify Him in our faith. It means we identify ourselves with our Lord; who and what He is. In Rom 10:9, it tells of confessing Jesus as Lord; John 9:22, of confessing Jesus as the Messiah; 1 John 4:2 of confessing that Jesus has come in the flesh; and 1 John 4:15, that Jesus is the Son of God. Each of these is not a stipulation for salvation, but the understanding of who Jesus is once we have believed in Him for salvation. It is the praising of Jesus for who He is. Therefore, to “confess Jesus,” means to praise Him after your salvation, as part of our testimony or witness of Christ before men, as it is meant to be an avenue of praise.
Now, speaking about my earthly father, this is something that he did throughout his life. As you may know, He was instrumental in starting our church and was the treasurer for many years. Prior to that, he was a member of the Board, a Deacon, and Treasurer at Grace Bible Church in Somerset, MA, under Pastor McLaughlin’s ministry. In both ministries, he was a very gracious giver of his time, talent, and treasure. He supported the dissemination of the Word of God unlike any other man I have known in my life. He absolutely confessed the name of Jesus before men, either directly or from behind the scenes, with his words or by his actions.
Then we have, “The Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God.” This speaks of the reciprocity of our (the believer’s) relationship with Jesus Christ.
It tells us that for those who stand up boldly to praise and proclaim the Lord, the Lord will stand up boldly and proclaim, (the Future, Active, Indicative of HOMOLOGEO), them “before the angels of God,” (ANGELOS HO THEOS). In other words, those who confess Jesus before men shall find themselves being confessed by Christ before the angels of God.
In Matthew’s account, Mat 10:32-33, the confession is “before God the Father who is in heaven.” In Luke’s account, it is “before the angels of God.”
The expression “angels of God” is meant to speak of all who are in heaven where heaven is seen as a “public forum” where truth is manifest, and the truth manifested in this confession, is the praise of the faithful believer in Jesus Christ, by our Lord before the angels and before God the Father Himself, cf. Rev 3:5.
Rev 3:5, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
As we see, obedience to this command is not a means of salvation, it is an indication of salvation. As such, this is not a passage for salvation, because someone is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. People cannot earn entrance into heaven by volunteering for martyrdom or by shouting the name of Christ in open crowds. Yet, this is a passage that speaks to the rewards and blessings the faithful believer will receive in the eternal state; he will have the honor of being presented to the heavenly hosts as a faithful believer. It is another form of the honor of having Jesus say, “well done my good and faithful servant,” Mat 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17, cf. John 12:26.
John 12:26, “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
Now, the timing of this great blessing is not stated. It is only stated as a matter of fact to occur in eternity, using the Future, Active, Indicative of HOMOLOGEO. This could happen upon the day of one’s death when he or she is escorted / carried to the eternal abode by the angels, Luke 16:22, or at the BEMA seat of Jesus Christ, Rom 14:10b; 1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 Cor 5:10, or at some other future time or event.
If it occurs following the time of one’s escorting to heaven, I can only imagine that our Lord has already announced the name of my father, David Rickard, to the heavenly citizens as a good and faithful servant.
And, I hope and pray that one day the same will happen for each and every one of you!!
Luke 12:9, “But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”
This is the other side of the coin; those who deny Jesus Christ during their life post-salvation. “Deny” is the Verb ARNEOMAI, ἀρνέομαι in the Aorist, Middle, Participle, Nominative that means, “deny, renounce, disown, or refuse” and “denied” is its cognate, APARNEOMAI, ἀπαρνέομαι in the Future, Passive, Indicative that intensifies the meaning but is virtually synonymous, “deny, disown, repudiate, or utterly reject.”
To deny means, “to say something is not true, to refuse a request, to disavow someone, and to not allow yourself something.” The latter definition is not in the context here, but we will note its use in the NT below. Yet, the others definitions are applicable to our context in this verse.
1. To deny Jesus means you tell others that you do not believe in Him or His Word, or something about Him or His Word. Teaching false and man-made doctrines are denying of the truth of God’s Word because you have added to God’s Word or misrepresented it. Therefore, it is a denial of Jesus Himself.
2. To deny Jesus means you deny His request for you to live the unique spiritual life of the Church Age. It is a denial in your discipleship of Jesus, where instead, you live inside of sin and Satan’s cosmic system. This is living the reversionistic or backsliding lifestyle.
3. To disavow Jesus means you deny any knowledge of, responsibility for, or association with Him. This is a rejection of Him as your Savior after you once believed in Him. Many teach you can lose your salvation when you disavow Jesus after you have once believed in Him, but that is a false teaching and false doctrine, because once you are saved, you are saved forever. You cannot lose your salvation, Cf. John 10:28-30. Salvation is a gift of God based on faith alone in Christ alone, Eph 2:8-9.
These “denials” are given in antithesis to the HOMOLOGEO, the praise of Jesus, from vs. 8. John the Baptist is one who did not deny his faith in Jesus in John 1:20, “And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ’.”
Yet some, through their conduct and evil acts, demonstrate that for all practical purposes they have renounced God and Christ, therefore denying Him, Titus 1:16; 1 John 2:22.
Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”
1 John 2:22, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”
And yes, believers can be called “antichrists,” because of their reversionism.
Throughout the NT, we see these two words used for someone who denies Jesus Christ, Mat 10:33; Mark 14:31; Luke 12:9; John 13:38; Acts 3:13; 2 Tim 2:12.
Acts 3:13, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him.”
In each instance, to deny Jesus means to reject or to denounce association with Him. This renunciation is therefore actually a denial of discipleship, either prior to salvation or post salvation.
Just as we noted the multi-faceted confession / praise of Jesus post-salvation in the word HOMOLOGEO, we see the multi-faceted denial of who Jesus Christ is in the NT. To “deny Jesus Christ” can involve denial of His person, 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:22f.; His name, Rev 3:8; the Faith, Rev 2:13; cf. 1 Tim 5:8; and the power of Christianity, 2 Tim 3:5. As such, to “not confess / praise Jesus” is tantamount to “denying Him.”
Then we have, regarding those who deny Jesus, that they “will be denied before the angels of God,” by Jesus. Cf. Mat 10:33; Luke 9:26; 2 Tim 2:12.
Luke 9:26, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
2 Tim 2:12b, “If we deny Him, He also will deny us.”
Given the context of this passage in vs.4-7, (having fear for / faithfulness in God rather than men), in vs. 11-12, we see this application toward us when we are held to the fire by men about our faith in Jesus. At those times in our lives, the question is, “will you continue to fear God and be faithful to Him and His Son by praising them, or will you cower in fear of men and deny Jesus, as Peter did after our Lord’s arrest?” Cf. Mat 26:34-35, 75; Mark 14:30-31, 72; Luke 22:34, 61; John 13:38.
So, what are the denials in this passage? The first denial, which we have explained above, is the believer’s denial of discipleship regarding Jesus Christ. It is the loser believer who does not actively and consistently live for and follow Jesus Christ. They do not praise Him before men, and instead live for self, inside of Satan’s Cosmic System.
The second denial is Jesus’ reciprocation to the loser believer, in that He will deny them “before the angels of God,” ENOPION HO ANGELOS HO THEOS.
Matthew reads, keeping consistent with his context in Mat 10:33, “before my Father who is in heaven,” EMPROSTHEN HO PATER MOUN HO EN HOURANOS.
In other words, they will not be praised before God the Father and angels by Jesus in the eternal state. As such, the loser believer who denies Jesus in time, is going to miss out on this special blessing and honor in the eternal state, along with many other blessings and rewards they could have otherwise received, 1 Cor 3:15; 2 Tim 2:11-13.
1 Cor 3:15, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” They will not lose their salvation, but they will lose out on added blessings and rewards in the eternal state.
In the context of our passage, this believer will not have the honor of being announced by Jesus to God the Father or the angles as a good and faithful servant who has done their job well. They will be denied that honor along with the denial of many other escrow rewards and blessings that they could have gained in eternity at the BEMA Seat of Jesus Christ. Instead, this loser believer will have shame at the Second Coming of our Lord, Mark 8:38; 1 John 2:28.
1 John 2:28, “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”
Mark 8:38, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
Now, the opposite of denying Christ is to deny self, which means deny or reject the temptations that come from your Old Sin Nature. As such, we must deny self and take up our cross daily, which may even include martyrdom, Mat 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23.
Luke 9:23, “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me’.”
In 2 Tim 2:11-13, Paul gives a wonderful discourse to exhort us to be faithful and praise our Lord rather than be unfaithful and deny Him.
Vs. 11, “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him.” This death is identification with the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins. If we believe He did that for us, we “died with Him,” and are saved and, “will live with Him,” forever.
Vs. 12a, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” This passage is speaking of our post–salvation life of enduring, (HUPOMENO, “endure, be patient, suffer, stand your ground, abide, wait, etc.”), for Christ. This is part of our “confessing / praising,” (HOMOLOGEOing), Jesus throughout our lives. It is our mental attitude and actions of standing firm in Christ without wavering. If we do that, we will receive blessings in the eternal state like being announced by Jesus before God and the angels, being told “well done my good and faithful servant,” and as stated here “reigning with Him.” This is included in the rewards noted in Rev 2-3, and 1 Cor 3:14, “If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.” This is the reality for the winner (NIKAO – overcomer) believer.
Vs. 12b, “If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” This is not the denial of entrance into heaven, as the context in the next passage tells us, but the denial of blessings and rewards in the eternal state that we otherwise could have had, as noted above. This is the reality for the loser believer.
We see a similar context used in 1 Tim 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Here, we can deny the faith and be a rotten person, but we still are classified as a believer. As such, we cannot lose our salvation, as stated in the next verse, but we can lose out on blessings and rewards in the eternal state.
Vs. 13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” This passage tells us that if we are without faith after our salvation, God cannot reject us and remove our salvation, because we have already been entered into the body of Jesus Christ and made a part of the Royal Family of God. We have already been made one with Christ and “He cannot deny (ARNEOMAI) Himself.” He cannot throw Himself out of heaven. Therefore, because we are one with Christ, even if we do not confess / praise Him after our salvation, He cannot take away our salvation and reject us from entering heaven. Cf. Rom 6:23; 12:5; 16:7; 1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 5:17; Col 1:28; 1 Thes 4:16; 1 Peter 5:10.
Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rom 12:5, “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
Rom 16:7, “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”
1 Cor 1:2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”
2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Col 1:28, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.”
1 Peter 5:10, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
1 Thes 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”
Luke 12:10, “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.”
This is paralleled in Mark 3:28-30, “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin, 30because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit”.”
Here, we have two contrasting denials. The first is the denial of Jesus post-salvation for the loser believer who does not HOMOLOGEO Him. Interestingly, that sin will be forgiven, as Jesus paid for it upon the Cross. The word for “forgiven,” is the Future Passive Indicative of the Verb APHIEMI, ἀφίημι that means, “cancel, pardon, forgive, or abandon.” It means that a debt has been canceled. In this case, the debt owed due to the sin of speaking evil against Jesus Christ. We noted this word in Luke 11:4, regarding the confession of our sins to receive forgiveness experientially, as also used in 1 John 1:9. Therefore, if someone denies Jesus Christ post-salvation by not proclaiming Him and instead speaks badly or falsely about Him, that sin will be forgiven, just as all sins have been forgiven positionally upon the Cross for those who believe in Jesus, and experientially when we apply 1 John 1:9 or Luke 11:4. As such, Jesus died for this sin upon the Cross.
In other words, this sin will not be held against the one performing it regarding their salvation, entrance into the eternal life, or entrance into heaven. In addition, it will not cause them to lose their salvation. As such, they will go to heaven because they had previously believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and this action is only another type of sin of the many sins this person commits.
Therefore, the denial of Jesus Christ is a forgivable sin because the context of these passages are related to our post-salvation / post-conversion life. The first half of this verse is not related to our salvation, just as vs. 8, was not.
“Speaking a word against the Son of Man,” means they have denied Him before man in some form after their salvation. That is a sin which was paid for at the Cross. Therefore, they are saved. Yet, they are a loser believer because they are not only not faithful to God, they are antagonistic towards His Son. This is a part of grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, Eph 4:30; 1 Thes 5:19, yet they do not lose their salvation.
Therefore, Jesus declares that even if someone speaks against the Son of Man, speaks against Him, that person can receive “forgiveness” and does, cf. Mat 12:32a. As we noted above, Peter denied Jesus three times, but God fully forgave him and restored him totally.
This is the context of 2 Tim 2:13, which we noted above, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” In His mercy, Jesus gave Peter an opportunity to repent and to once again confess Him as Lord. This same mercy extends to “whosoever” will come to Him.
The second half of this passage is the denial or rejection of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is called blaspheming the Holy Spirit. As it reads, “But he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.” Once again, we have the Future, Passive, Indicative of APHIEMI, yet this time it is preceded by the negative Participle OUK meaning, “will not be forgiven.”
This too is very interesting, as we can say a disparaging remark against Jesus, deny Him as our Lord, or even blaspheme against Him after we once believed in Him as our Savior. Yet, we cannot “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit.
“Blaspheme,” is the Verb BLASPHEMEO, βλασφημέω and means, “blaspheme, speak evil of, speak abusively, curse, slander, or treat someone with contempt.” Blasphemy is any manner of speech that disregards or disrespects the value of another. To blaspheme God means, “to treat God disrespectfully through your words or actions, or to speak in a way that shows irreverence for God.” Irreverence towards God means a lack of honor or respect towards Him or rejection of His state of being (i.e., He is not God). This is the first time Luke uses this word, but uses it also in Luke 22:65; 23:39, for those who are unbelievers.
Luke 22:65, “And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming.”
This verse links “speaking a word against the Son of Man” with “blaspheming” Him. In that passage, it was regarding unbelievers who were railing insults towards Him. Yet in our passage directed to the believer, we can blaspheme Jesus post-salvation, (although I highly recommend not doing it), and ask for the forgiveness of that sin and receive it. Therefore, the believer can blaspheme Jesus and not lose their salvation, because that sin is forgiven, yet, the unbeliever who blasphemes the Holy Spirit is rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is an unpardonable sin.
In our passage, the blaspheming is “against the Holy Spirit,” EIS, (into, to, toward, unto, opposed to, against, etc.), HO HAGIOS PNEUMA, (the Holy Spirit). We could say, “toward the Holy Spirit.”
Blaspheming the Holy Spirit means a person has rejected the common grace ministry of God the Holy Spirit, which is teaching and making understandable the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Under His common grace ministry, the Holy Spirit is responsible for teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every member of the human race. In that teaching ministry, He also makes the gospel of Jesus Christ understandable to the unbeliever, because they have no spiritual discernment of their own. Therefore, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to reject His common grace ministry, which is tantamount to rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When someone rejects Jesus as their Savior, it is a sin that is “not forgiven,” OUK APHEIMI. This is the only sin Jesus could not and did not pay for upon the Cross. Therefore, it is an unforgiveable or unpardonable sin.
In the context of this passage, as also seen in Mark 3:30, we go back to Luke 11:15, “But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons”.” Jesus performed His miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, to demonstrate that Jesus was the Messiah. By calling these miracles by the power of Satan, they were rejecting the common grace ministry of the Holy Spirit to prove Jesus was the Messiah. Therefore, they were rejecting the Gospel, which is an unpardonable sin. Therefore, Jesus was saying in essence, “Hey, you can say anything you want against Me and it will be forgiven you, but you cannot call the common grace ministry of the Holy Spirit as being from Satan because that is blaspheming God and a clear sign that you are rejecting the Messiah / Savior / King.”
Remember that a single act of blasphemy does not doom someone to hell. If that were true, then Paul had no hope of salvation, 1 Tim 1:13.
1 Tim 1:13, “Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.”
The blaspheming of the Holy Spirit in our passage is the consistent rejection of the Gospel of Jesus throughout someone’s life, which if not rectified through faith in Jesus Christ, will lead to eternal condemnation.
In Luke 23:39, we have the unrepentant thief upon the Cross, “One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse (BLASPHEMEO) at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!””
William Hendriksen explains this “unpardonable sin,” as he writes: “Their sin is unpardonable because they are unwilling to tread the path that leads to pardon. For a thief, an adulterer, and a murderer there is hope. The message of the gospel may cause him to cry out, “O God be merciful to me, the sinner.” But when a man has become hardened, so that he has made up his mind not to pay any attention to the promptings of the Spirit, not even to listen to his pleading and warning voice, he has placed himself on the road that leads to perdition.” (Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew.)
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is noted in John 16:8-9.
John 16:8-9, “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me.”
Here, we see the convicting or common grace ministry of the Holy Spirit. That ministry is to teach and make understandable the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unbeliever. When someone rejects the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are in essence rejecting the ministry of the Holy Spirit and are therefore blaspheming Him because they are saying that the gospel is not true and that God the Holy Spirit is a liar. They are speaking a falsehood against God the Holy Spirit, cf. Gen 6:3; John 16:7‑11; Heb 10:29.
Heb 10:29, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
Those who are under the unpardonable sin consider the gospel foolishness, 1 Cor 1:18, 2:14.
1 Cor 2:14, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
This sin has its own reversionism, 2 Peter 2:19‑22, and is characterized by strong delusion, 2 Thes 2:11‑12.
Synonyms for the unpardonable sin include:
- Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Mat 12:31; Luke 12:10.
- Resistance of the Holy Spirit, Acts 7:51.
Acts 7:51, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.”
Mat 12:32, adds at the end, “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Therefore, this is the unpardonable sin that remains on the account of the holder for all of eternity. If someone does not believe in Jesus Christ through the Gospel presented to them by the Holy Spirit, they will receive eternal condemnation.
Jesus warns that we can be forgiven of blaspheming, or slandering, Him. There is pardon for slandering the Son, but there can be no forgiveness or pardon for blaspheming the Holy Spirit, because that means you are rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ for your personal salvation
These words take us back to where we began. Do you remember those who said Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebul? They were slandering the work of God. They were slandering the Holy Spirit. They were hardening their hearts in unbelief. That slander and hardening, ultimately, is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
But those who truly believe trust the Holy Spirit. Even in times of persecution, they rely on the Holy Spirit’s power, as we will note next in vs. 11-12. Those verses tell us that the Spirit will speak through the believer and in the day of our earthly trial. We do not worry about defending ourselves. The Lord and Spirit will argue our case. So rather than blaspheme the Spirit of God by rejecting His ministry, we trust Him to save us.
To commit the unforgivable / unpardonable sin as noted in Luke 12:10, one must consciously, persistently, deliberately, and maliciously reject the testimony of the Holy Spirit regarding the Deity and saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a person keeps doing that until death, there is no hope of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven. Yet, our God is a compassionate and merciful God. He desires that no one should be lost, but that all should come to salvation through repentance and personal faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, 2 Peter 3:9; Acts 2:21.
2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Acts 2:21, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Cf. Joel 2:32.
Zech 13:6, “And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends’.”
Isa 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
1 Peter 2:24, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed.”
The fourth mandate of Chapter 12 is:
d. Do not become distracted about defending yourself; God will stand in your defense and guide you, vs. 11-12.
Luke 12:11-12, “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” We see this paralleled in Mat 10:16-20; Mark 13:9-11.
Jesus is continuing to deal with the subject of confessing Him before men. The pattern He gives is brought together in this verse. Back in vs. 8-9, Jesus referred to confession or denial of the Christ. Confession leads to great blessings and honor in heaven, but denial leads to being denied blessings and rewards by Christ in time and eternity. Vs. 10, then focused on the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it can be rejected by the unbeliever. So, vs. 11-12, take these two themes, confession and the Spirit, and unites them in the life of the believer who stands before the world bearing witness to the Lord of Jesus Christ as Savior / King / Messiah.
Interestingly, He does not say “if” but “when (HOTAN) they bring you in before.” As such, we see that it is inevitable that a positive believer will be called to make an account of their faith at some point in their lives.
Using the Verb EISPHERO, εἰσφέρω in the Present, Active, Subjunctive of probability that in its root PHERO and cognate PROSPHERO means, “bring in, bring before, offer, present, or do service.” With the prefix EIS it gives direction. The root and cognates are used for bringing a sacrifice before God, especially in the book of Hebrews, with the added emphasis of accomplishing the sacrifice, (i.e., the completed work), Heb 13:11.
Heb 13:11, “For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.” Cf. Lev 4:5; 16:27.
Therefore, when you are interrogated for your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by men, (religious or secular), it is a form of sacrifice to God; just as Jesus was brought before them who became our great sacrifice.
Another common usage is that of the sick, lame, and demon possessed being brought to Jesus for healing, cf. Luke 5:18-19. When Jesus was healing them all, He was also being accused of being from Satan in Chapter 11. As such, we see the context of false accusations and mockery or blaspheming the Holy Spirit, when He was trying to witness the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, just as Jesus was falsely accused, we too will be falsely accused.
Finally, this word is used in John 16:2, regarding the hypocrisy of the false accusers, which is the underlying theme of these passages, as our Lord states, John 16:2, “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.”
There are three groups that Jesus mentions we could be brought before to give an account of our faith. It includes:
- Synagogues, SUNGAGOGE is used to refer to the church leaders, the religious leaders. Synagogues were the ecclesiastical courts of their day. They were ruling on matters both religious and civil. If someone was excommunicate, it did not merely bar them from coming to the synagogue; it expelled them from all social and commercial contact. A person “cut off” from the people could not buy food or supplies, earn a wage, receive medical attention, or even sell property. That is why the people had much fear for them, which Jesus told them not to have and instead fear God.
- Rulers, ARCHE is used for human rulers, both religious or secular, and also for angelic authorities, cf. Rom 8:38; 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:10, 15. Therefore, we see the interrogation is by those who have authority inside of Satan’s cosmic system, as part of the Angelic Conflict.
- Authorities, EXOUSIA is the delegated authority given to men, Luke 23:7, or angels to rule in legal or moral matters. It speaks of secular human authority, and can also include angelic authority.
Whether rulers or authorities, in the human realm, they could send people to their death, flog, imprison, banish or fine them at their whim.
Therefore, these three words cover all the bases regarding those in various authorities that could prosecute and/or persecute someone. Using these terms also tells us that Satan is behind these persecutions; even though man may be carrying them out.
Regardless of who or where the persecution is coming from, our Lord instructs us to be continually trusting in Him, as He notes, “do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say.”
The word for “worry,” is the Verb MERIMNAO that means, “be anxious, care for, or be concerned about.” It is preceded by the Greek negative Particle ME that means, “do not be worried or anxious.” We are to trust in the Holy Spirit entirely.
Then our Lord follows up with three things we are not to worry about: 1-2) “How and what to reply in our defense,” and 3) “What to say.”
Mat 10:19, “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.”
Mark 13:11, “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.”
“Speak in your defense,” is the Greek Verb APOLOGEOMAI, ἀπολογέομαι in the Aorist, Middle, Subjunctive. It is first used here in the NT, and then again by our Lord in Luke 21:12-15. This prophecy and instruction came partially to fruition in Paul’s case, in Acts 19:33; 24:10; 25:8; 26:1-2, 24.
This does not mean we do not have to learn God’s Word / Bible Doctrine in our lives, because remember John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” Therefore, we need to learn Bible Doctrine on a consistent basis to provide the Holy Spirit with plenty of ammunition to use for our defense. What we do not do is worry about when, where, why, or how we need to defend ourselves. We do not need to be concerned about persecutions or how we are going to defend against them. We do not have to stay up all night preparing a great speech for our defense. Instead, we faith rest it and trust in God the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in our defense.
Therefore, our Lord is instructing us to trust and reply upon the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us as to what to say in such times, as noted in vs. 12, “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Mat 10:20, “For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
Acts 4:8, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people…”
Acts 13:9, “But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him.”
The reason a believer can faithfully and confidently confess Jesus as Lord is because the Holy Spirit is faithful to teach the believer for the moment of crisis. While vs. 10, referred to blaspheming the Holy Spirit in relation to Jesus, vs. 11-12, refer to the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the person who is willing to acknowledge Jesus publicly.
In our passage the Holy Spirit “will teach us,” DIDASKO HUMEIS, “in that very hour,” EN AUTOS HO HORA, “what you ought to say,” HOS DEI EIPON.
Therefore, our Lord is telling us that when we preach the gospel to others, we may be brought before religious and civil authorities, backed by fallen angelic forces, and encounter persecution as Stephen did, who was the first martyr, Acts 7:51-54. Yet, when he was persecuted, it was the Holy Spirit who gave him the information to speak and a vision of the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God to comfort and assure him, Acts 7:55.
As such, we are to trust in God the Holy Spirit, especially in times of trials and tribulation and not worry about defending ourselves, because the Holy Spirit will give us the pertinent information and Bible Doctrine to use and speak that will defend us. So, rather than blaspheming the Holy Spirit as the unbeliever does, we are to trust in Him whole-heartedly. And, do not think you have to prepare an eloquent speech or the such, but simply speak from the heart, because the Holy Spirit lives in you, and you will say what needs to be said when you are trusting in Him.