Luke 3:12

ESV Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
NIV Even tax collectors came to be baptized. 'Teacher,' they asked, 'what should we do?'
NASB Now even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said to him, 'Teacher, what are we to do?'
CSB Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do? "
NLT Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, 'Teacher, what should we do?'
KJV Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

What does Luke 3:12 mean?

Those who heard John the Baptist were commanded to repent—to run from sin—and to live lives consistent with that repentance (Luke 3:7–9). Those who accepted this message were baptized as a public expression of their decision. All this was part of John's role as the herald of Messiah (Luke 3:1–6). This passage shows John's response to questions from various groups about how to live out that repentance. Each corresponds to some temptation common to that group. For people in general, John's advice is to use one's abundance to bless those who are in need (Luke 3:10–11).

Here, John is approached by tax collectors. This was an era of Roman occupation: the Jewish people were subjects of a pagan empire. Locals were hired by the invaders to collect and submit taxes. This was doubly offensive to the people of Israel. Not only did tax collectors work on behalf of their nation's oppressors, but they also interacted with unclean Gentiles. As a result, the term "tax collectors" was often used as general metaphor for distasteful, immoral people (Mark 2:16; Matthew 5:46).

Worse, many tax collectors were prone to corruption. Romans cared little how much money was taken from conquered people, so long as the correct amount was given to imperial leaders. Unscrupulous tax collectors could add extravagant amounts to the taxes they collected, knowing they could threaten others with arrest or imprisonment. This is the sin which John will address when giving them advice in the next verse (Luke 3:13).
What is the Gospel?
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