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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE - Chapter 3 - Verse 14

Verse 14. The soldiers likewise. It seems that they also came to his baptism. Whether these were Jews or Romans cannot be ascertained. It is not improbable that, as Judea was a Roman province, they were Jews or Jewish proselytes in the service of Herod Antipas or Philip, and so were really in the Roman service.

Do violence {2}, &c. Do not take the property of any by unlawful force, or do not use unjust force against the person or property of any individual. It is probable that many of them were oppressive, or prone to violence, rapine, or theft, and burdensome even in times of peace to the inhabitants.

Neither accuse any falsely. It is probable that when they wished the property of others and could not obtain it by violence, or when there was no pretext for violence, they often attempted the same-thing in another way, and falsely accused the persons of crime. The word rendered falsely accused is the one from which our word sycophant is derived. The proper meaning of the word sycophant was this: There was a law in Athens which prohibited the importation of figs. The sycophant (literally the man who made figs to appear, or who showed them) was one who made complaint to the magistrate of persons who had imported figs contrary to law, or who was an informer; and then the word came to be used in a general sense to denote any complainer — a calumniator—an accuser —an informer. As such persons were usually cringing and fawning, and looked for a reward, the word came to be used also to denote a fawner or flatterer. It is always used in a bad sense. It is correctly rendered here, "do not accuse any falsely."

Be content, &c. Do not murmur or complain, or take unlawful means to increase your wages.

Wages. This word means not only the money which was paid them, but also their rations or daily allowance of food. By this they were to show that their repentance was genuine; that it had a practical influence; that it produced a real reformation of life; and it is clear that no other repentance would be genuine. Every profession of repentance which is not attended with a change of life is mere hypocrisy. It did not condemn their profession, or say that it was unlawful to be a soldier, or that they must abandon the business in order to be true penitents. It was possible to be a good man and yet a soldier. What was required was that in their profession they should show that they were really upright, and did not commit the crimes which were often practised in that calling. It is lawful to defend one's self, one's family, or one's country, and hence it is lawful to be a soldier. Man everywhere, in all professions, should be a Christian, and then he will do honour to his profession, and his profession, if it is not a direct violation of the law of God, will be honourable.

{2} "Do violence" or "Put no man in fear"

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