What does Luke 3:14 mean?
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.
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.
Luke 3:7–22 is a relatively brief explanation of John the Baptist's ministry. John's preaching calls on people to repent and turn from their sins. At the same time, he is careful to declare that he is not Christ—John is only a herald of the Messiah. Luke's account quickly summarizes this message, John's conflict with Herod the Tetrarch, and the baptism of Jesus. Parallel accounts are found in Matthew 3, Mark 1:1–11, and John 1:19–34.
The early part of Luke's gospel shifts back and forth between the histories of Jesus and John the Baptist. Chapter 3 starts with historical and prophetic context about John. It then depicts some of John's interactions with local religious leaders. Luke gives only a brief description of Jesus' baptism. He also touches on John's criticism of Herod the Tetrarch, which would eventually result in John's execution (Matthew 14:10–12). The chapter ends with a genealogy of Christ.
Chapters 1 and 2 provided early history for both John the Baptist and Jesus. Chapter 3 establishes John's preaching ministry and its connection to Jesus Christ. The chapter ends with a genealogy which some believe runs through Mary's side of the family. Chapter 4 transitions from Jesus' baptism into His public ministry, by describing His fasting in the wilderness and temptation by Satan.
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.
Accessed 11/30/2023 4:56:42 AM
© Copyright 2002-2023 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.