09.02.04 Lk. 12:1-12
WARNING AGAINST HYPOCRISY
1 In these circumstances, a crowd of many thousands came together, so that they were trampling on one another. He began to say to His disciples first: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 There is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered, nothing hidden that won’t be made known. 3 Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in an ear in private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.
4 “And I say to you, My friends, don’t fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. 5 But I will show you the One to fear: Fear Him who has authority to throw people into hell after death. Yes, I say to you, this is the One to fear! 6 Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. 7 Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows!
8 “And I say to you, anyone who acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God, 9 but whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
11 Whenever they bring you before synagogues and rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you should defend yourselves or what you should say. 12 For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what must be said.”
Hypocrisy is always an attempt to hide the truth of one’s life. Hence, the hypocrite has within himself a life of falsehoods which cannot co-exist with the believer who is to worship God in spirit and truth. Truthfulness and hypocrisy are the fruit of two different spiritual worlds.
Jesus realized that the common peasants – the multitudes – and even many rabbis were in a difficult position. They had to decide whether to listen to their leaders in Jerusalem and stay within their religious system, or follow Him. The major point of difference was that the leaders focused on their Oral Laws, while Jesus focused on the Kingdom of God as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Covenant. This was a most difficult process and the leading Pharisees threatened those who considered leaving traditional Judaism to follow Jesus. The more who followed Jesus, the weaker the Pharisees became. And that was a concern.
“Private rooms….housetops.” Obviously at this point, a brief description of a first century house is needed. In the mountain regions of central Israel and the Galilee area, houses were built from stone. In the rolling hills and plains by the Mediterranean Sea sun-dried mud bricks were used. It was possible that a thief could literally dig his way into a house and steal choice possessions, such as food jars. An interior room was the most private room, as it had no windows or openings for fresh air for security and privacy reasons. Since glass windows did not exist, windows were nothing but small openings in the wall for light and fresh air.
“Fear Him who has authority to throw people into hell after death.” The word “hell” clearly means the place of eternal fire of the damned (literally, the hell of fire). Jeremiah used the phrase as the place of a future judgment (Jer. 7:32-34, 19:6-9).
“Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies?” In ancient times, as in many areas of the Middle East today, an object for sale had no set price. An interested buyer had to negotiate a purchase price. Therefore, there is no conflict with two different but similar prices in the gospels. Incidentally, “pennies” are English coins used in this passage for the smallest unit of currency, pennies were not coins associated with biblical times.
“The one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” The English word blasphemy or blaspheme is from the Greek term blasphemia, meaning to insult. But it also suggests that the one who blasphemes has placed himself in the place of God and, thereby, degrades Him. That includes insulting Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well. Hence, it is an incredibly serious charge.
“The Holy Spirit will teach you.” The phrase is better translated, “The Holy Spirit will reveal to you,” or “direct you.” It has on occasion been interpreted to mean that there is no need for deep biblical study, for the Holy Spirit will impart whatever knowledge is needed at the time. This is hardly the meaning. The disciples had been with Jesus for more than three years and had received the best education possible. Jesus meant that from their vast foundational knowledge and experiences, the Holy Spirit would direct them as to what to say when being confronted by various authorities. Likewise today, students are to study the Word to obtain a foundational knowledge so they can make appropriate judgments with the help of the Holy Spirit to guide them in that process.
. Smith, Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Matthew. 115.
. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:40.
. The term “fire” was frequently used by Old Testament prophets: Isa. 29:6; 66:15; Ezek. 38:22; Amos 1:4; 7:4; Zeph. 1:18; 3:8; Mal. 3:2; 4:1. The term is also found in numerous extra-biblical books such as Jubilees 9:15; 36:10 and in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
. Barclay, A New Testament Wordbook. 51.