What does Luke 12:6 mean?
ESV: Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
NIV: Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
NASB: Are five sparrows not sold for two assaria? And yet not one of them has gone unnoticed in the sight of God.
CSB: Aren't five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight.
NLT: What is the price of five sparrows — two copper coins ? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.
KJV: Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
NKJV: “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is urging the disciples to choose Him over the Pharisees. The Pharisees are immensely popular among the people, but they are devoted to extra-biblical laws. Rejection of the message of God's prophets lead them and their followers to spiritual death (Luke 11:39–52). Remaining confident in Jesus may lead to physical death, but in the end Jesus' followers will receive eternal life in His presence (Luke 12:1–5, 8–12).

As an illustration, Jesus compares the disciples to sparrows. Of all the food sold at the marketplace, sparrows are the cheapest. They are so small and inconsequential, they're not even a suitable replacement for sacrifices for the poor like the pigeon and turtledove (Leviticus 1:14).

And yet, God sees the sparrow. He is aware of their lives and deaths: He knows them. And if He knows these small birds, the disciples—all of Jesus' followers—can be assured that He knows them. Jesus-followers may face physical death for their faithfulness (Luke 12:4), but God will remember them, raise them on the last day, and bring them to live with Him in paradise for eternity (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

This passage is one of many refutations of a common false teaching: the "health and wealth" or "prosperity" gospel. The teaching claims that if Christians have enough faith and obey God properly, God will give them physical wellbeing and worldly riches. That anyone could make this claim is puzzling considering what Jesus states. Here, He tells the disciples that if they remain faithful to Him (Luke 12:8–12) they may die (Luke 12:4–5). He will later tell them that the world hates Him so it will hate them, too (John 15:18–19). The only apostle's death the Bible mentions is a man who died because of his faith in Jesus (Acts 12:1–2). A proper, literal reading of Scripture leaves no mistake that sometimes Jesus' followers will suffer because they follow Him.

A "penny" is an assarion: 1/16th of a denarius, or less than half an hour's wages for a laborer. Matthew's account says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?" (Matthew 10:29). The slight variation gives more evidence that Jesus, as a traveling teacher, used the same illustrations in different contexts.
Verse Context:
Luke 12:4–7 applies Jesus' warning for the disciples to reject the way of the Pharisees (Luke 12:1–3). The disciples will face intense persecution beginning with the Jewish religious leaders, particularly a Pharisee named Saul (Acts 8:1–3; 9:1–2). Many Jesus-followers will lose their lives. Even so, those who belong to God's kingdom will receive eternal life. Jesus goes on to say that when standing accused before those who can do them harm, they needn't worry about what they should say. The Holy Spirit will guide them (Luke 12:8–12). Matthew 10:29–31 covers the same material.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus teaches the disciples about proper priorities. This includes recognizing that God knows all things, even secrets. Believers should honor God more than they fear death, or than they worry about things like food and clothes. Christians are to remain ready for Christ's return, even as faith separates those who believe from those who do not. These ideas revolve around the central theme of verse 34: that a person's heart reflects what they value most.
Chapter Context:
Luke 12:1—13:9 compares the world with the kingdom of God. Jesus has condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Luke 11:14–54). He now instructs His disciples to reject the fame and security that Pharisees crave, and hold lightly to their lives, wealth, security, and even family. He then warns the crowd to be wise about their relationships with other people and with God. The next two units each include a miracle and teaching on God's kingdom and salvation (Luke 13:10—15:32). Then the final section in the "travelogue" repeats that three-unit pattern (Luke 16:1—19:27) before Jesus arrives in Jerusalem.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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