The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 12:35-38

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2013

Text in red are my notes.

Luk 12:35  Let your loins be girt and lamps burning in your hands.

Having encouraged His followers to divest themselves of all solicitude about earthly things, He now inculcates on all, constant vigilance in expectation of this kingdom of God, which is not distant, but at hand. During the entire course of your lives, “let your loins be girl.” This is allusive to the customs of Eastern people, men as well as women, who wore long flowing garments. They used girdles around the waist, to shorten and draw up their flowing robes, when commencing any work, performing any active service, or setting out on a journey. “And lamps burning in your hands,” to be ready at a moment.

Loins. In bipedal and quadrupeds the term refers to the area of the back between the lower ribs and the hips. The image here is not the donning of a loin cloth, rather, it refers to cinching a belt around the waist in order to pull up an ankle length  robe (the common garment of Jesus’ day and culture) thus bringing up the hem for easier, quicker movement, lessening the likelihood of tripping over it (see Isaiah 5:27). Such girding was commonly done during physical labor. See what is said regarding the master in verse 37.

Luk 12:36  And you yourselves like to men who wait for their lord, when he shall return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately.

“Like men who wait,” &c. When servants were expecting their master home from the wedding, which took place at night, they always had their garments gathered up, and the lamps at hand, so as to attend to his call at once, without any delay. This is, of course, allegorical. It denotes the constant, never-ceasing vigilance with which we should prepare for our Lord’s coming to call us out of life. We should “have our loins girt,” being always engaged in His service, doing whatever we do, suffering whatever we are doomed to suffer for His glory, keeping Him before our minds in all things, having the lamp of faith trimmed with the oil of good works, unlike the foolish virgins, whose lamps were not properly or sufficiently trimmed in this way, at the last moment, not having their faith enlivened by charity.

Luk 12:37  Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching. Amen I say to you that he will gird himself and make them sit down to meat and passing will minister unto them.

“Blessed.” In the allegorical sense, blessed with an eternal crown of glory, with an abundance of never-ending delights, which it has not been given to the mind of man to contemplate.

“He shall gird Himself,” &c. In the literal sense, it is a thing which very seldom occurs, that the master ministers to his faithful servants. However, our Lord supposes it to happen, that a generous master, after having himself enjoyed the pleasures of a banquet, and finding his servants ready to attend to his call on his return, would himself in turn, prepare them a banquet in reward for their fidelity, serve and wait on them. At all events, the parable or illustration is meant to convey the generesity with which God will reward His faithful servants, whom He shall make partakers of His bliss in His heavenly kingdom.

Luk 12:38  And if he shall come in the second watch or come in the third watch and find them so, blessed are those servants.

“Second … third watch.” (See Matthew 14:25). In the parable, there is no mention of the first or fourth watch; because, the first was too early an hour for returning from a banquet; the fourth, too late. The usual hours for returning are mentioned. The example is meant to convey to us, that we may be called to an account at any period of life, and that whenever called, even should He delay His coming, we should be always found watching and ready, persevering in good works, without ceasing or intermission (as in Luke 21:34–36).

Ancient armies divided the night time up into various sentinel (guard post) “watches” (duties, assignments). Originally the Hebrews had three such watches: [A]. from sundown to 10 PM; [B]. from 10 PM till 2 AM; [C]. from 2 AM to sunrise. Later, probably after Pompey’s conquest, they adopted the four-fold Roman division: [A]. from sunset to 9 PM; [B]. from 9 to midnight; [C]. from midnight to 3 AM; [D]. from 3 AM to sunrise.

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