Chapter
Verse

Luke 3:14

ESV Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”
NIV Then some soldiers asked him, 'And what should we do?' He replied, 'Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay.'
NASB And soldiers also were questioning him, saying, 'What are we to do, we as well?' And he said to them, 'Do not extort money from anyone, nor harass anyone, and be content with your wages.'
CSB Some soldiers also questioned him, "What should we do? "He said to them, "Don't take money from anyone by force or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."
NLT What should we do?' asked some soldiers. John replied, 'Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.'
KJV And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

What does Luke 3:14 mean?

As a herald of the Messiah, John the Baptist preaches a message of repentance (Luke 3:1–6). This includes a call for people to declare their repentance through baptism, then live a life corresponding to that change (Luke 3:7–9). Several groups approach to ask what this means, in practice. Common people are told to use their abundance to help those in need (Luke 3:10–11). Tax collectors, a group prone to overcharging, were commanded to collect only what was due (Luke 3:12–13).

The reference to "soldiers" here is interesting. As a conquered people, Israel would not have been allowed an independent standing army. It's uncertain if the men approaching John are Roman soldiers, foreign mercenaries, or something else entirely. In any case, they seek the same advice given to other groups: how to "bear fruit in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8). John's answer once again strikes to a temptation common to this group. In the case of ancient soldiers, this is extortion. Beyond the intimidation of weapons and armor, soldiers could threaten locals with arrest or harassment. This created the temptation to take advantage of conquered people, even among troops who were well paid.
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