Luke 12:35

ESV “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning,
NIV Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,
NASB Be prepared, and keep your lamps lit.
CSB "Be ready for service and have your lamps lit.
NLT Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning,
KJV Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

What does Luke 12:35 mean?

Considering the coming fulfillment of God's kingdom, Jesus told the disciples what they should not prioritize. Those ideas include earthly honor, extending one's lifespan, wealth, and worry about daily needs (Luke 12:1–34). Now, He explains what His followers should prioritize.

Jesus has spoken about "light" and "lamps" before. In Luke 8:16–17 and 12:2–3, He uses the metaphor of lamp and light to talk about truths and secrets that will be revealed. Here, it refers to the intent to make the light needed to stay alert when everyone else is spiritually asleep. Literally, Jesus is talking about servants whose master is away at a wedding feast (Luke 12:36). They do not know when he will return, but they must stay awake and ready to receive and serve him. In a similar way, Jesus is calling His follower to stay alert and ready for His return.

"Stay dressed" literally means to have a girded waist—to "gird your loins." Men generally wore long tunics down to their calves or longer. If they needed more dexterity to do hard labor or fight, they would gather their skirt in the front, pass it to the back, gather the fabric into two tails, bring the tails around each side, and tie them in the front. Jesus is not telling the disciples to continually walk around with their tunics tied up. He's using a metaphor that means they should be prepared.

Jesus uses the idea of a burning light at night in several other illustrations. Most applicable is the parable of the ten virgins. Ten virgins wait for the bridegroom to collect them for his wedding. Five are not prepared and run out of oil for their lamps. Like the master whose servants do not keep lamps lit for him, the bridegroom is disappointed (Matthew 25:1–13).
What is the Gospel?
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