Luke 12:49

ESV “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!
NIV I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
NASB I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!
CSB "I came to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already set ablaze!
NLT I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning!
KJV I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?

What does Luke 12:49 mean?

In this passage, Jesus had tried to explain that the riches and honor of this world are disposable compared to the glory the disciples will see when God's kingdom is fulfilled. They should reject the approval of the Pharisees, worldly riches, even survival. They need to concentrate on watching for the return of the Son of Man and the coming kingdom (Luke 12:1–40). Peter responds by making sure the disciples are still going to be in authority over "lesser" followers of Christ (Luke 12:41).

In His frustration, Jesus wishes that all the worldly nonsense He has just warned against were already burning. He wants the disciples to sit on their twelve thrones, judging the tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). He wants a world where all spiritual leaders are responsible and loving (Luke 12:42–46). He wants a world where physical survival is not so hard. And if it won't come without the fires of judgment, let the judgment come!

Jesus is just asking the disciples to wait in anticipation and hold lightly to the things of the world. He is the one who will have to make the biggest sacrifice. Not just die—all the disciples will die. Not just be crucified—Peter will be crucified (John 21:18–19). But He will carry the weight of all the sin of every person in every age. He will suffer the wrath of His loving Father as the Father looks at Him and sees sin (Luke 12:50).

That sacrifice will make the disciples' future honor possible, but it will also require that His followers make sacrifices. He will take the sins of the world, but many will reject His offer of forgiveness. The saved will be separated eternally from the unsaved. The disciples as well as the crowd of thousands around them will be split from family members who reject Jesus (Luke 12:51–53).

Fire is strongly associated with judgment in the Bible. In this case, Jesus' fire and judgment will occur at the battle of Armageddon. There, the forces of Satan and the Antichrist are destroyed, and He takes His throne at the beginning of the millennial kingdom. The disciples have no idea that two thousand years after Jesus' warning, their church will still be waiting.
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: