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Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament

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Luke 3:14

Soldiers also (kai strateuomenoi).
Men on service, militantes rather than milites (Plummer). So Paul in 2 Timothy 2:4. An old word like stratiwthv, soldier. Some of these soldiers acted as police to help the publicans. But they were often rough and cruel.

Do violence to no man (mhdena diaseishte).
Here only in the N.T., but in the LXX and common in ancient Greek. It means to shake (seismic disturbance, earthquake) thoroughly (dia) and so thoroughly to terrify, to extort money or property by intimidating (3Macc. 7:21). The Latin employs concutere, so. It was a process of blackmail to which Socrates refers (Xenophon, Memorabilia, ii. 9,1). This was a constant temptation to soldiers. Might does not make right with Jesus.

Neither exact anything wrongfully (mhde sukopanthshte).
In Athens those whose business it was to inform against any one whom they might find exporting figs out of Attica were called fig-showers or sycophants (sukopantai). From sukon, fig, and painw, show. Some modern scholars reject this explanation since no actual examples of the word meaning merely a fig-shower have been found. But without this view it is all conjectural. From the time of Aristophanes on it was used for any malignant informer or calumniator. These soldiers were tempted to obtain money by informing against the rich, blackmail again. So the word comes to mean to accuse falsely. The sycophants came to be a regular class of informers or slanderers in Athens. Socrates is quoted by Xenophon as actually advising Crito to employ one in self-defence, like the modern way of using one gunman against another. Demosthenes pictures a sycophant as one who "glides about the market like a scorpion, with his venomous sting all ready, spying out whom he may surprise with misfortune and ruin and from whom he can most easily extort money, by threatening him with an action dangerous in its consequences" (quoted by Vincent). The word occurs only in Luke in the N.T., here and in Luke 19:8 in the confession of Zaccheus. It occurs in the LXX and often in the old Greek.

Be content with your wages (arkeiste toiv opswnioiv umwn).
Discontent with wages was a complaint of mercenary soldiers. This word for wages was originally anything cooked (opson, cooked food), and bought (from wneomai, to buy). Hence, "rations," "pay," wages. Opsarion, diminutive of opson, was anything eaten with bread like broiled fish. So opswnion comes to mean whatever is bought to be eaten with bread and then a soldier's pay or allowance (Polybius, and other late Greek writers) as in 1 Corinthians 9:7. Paul uses the singular of a preacher's pay (2 Corinthians 11:8) and the plural of the wages of sin (Romans 6:23) = death (death is the diet of sin).

 


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 3:14". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/rwp/view.cgi?book=lu&chapter=003&verse=014>. Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960.

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