Luke 12:16-40

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

June 13, 2001


Jesus had been asked to settle a family dispute.

(Luke 12:13-15 KJV)  And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. {14} And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? {15} And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Jesus didn’t want to deal with this man’s problem because the real problem was this man’s heart, not his family situation.  The real problem was his own desire for money.

:16-21  Parable of the rich man’s barns

:16  And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

richplousios – wealthy, abounding in material resources

brought fortheuphoreo – to be fertile, bring forth plentifully

the groundchora – the space lying between two places or limits; a region or country i.e. a tract of land; land which is ploughed or cultivated, ground

The man was already rich before his fields bring forth this huge bumper crop.

:17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

thoughtdialogizomai – to bring together different reasons, to reckon up the reasons, to reason, revolve in one’s mind, deliberate

It is not wrong that this man is “reasoning” within himself.  The problem is that his focus is solely upon his own self, his own welfare.

to bestowsunago – to gather together, to gather; to draw together, collect

How would you like a problem like this one?  Too much money!  Wow!  Watch out!

:18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

pull downkathaireo – to take down; to pull down, demolish

barnsapotheke – a place in which anything is laid by or up; a storehouse, granary

buildoikodomeo – to build a house, erect a building

fruitsgennema – that which has been born or begotten; the offspring or progeny of men or animals; the fruits of the earth, the produce of agriculture

goodsagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful, salutary; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honourable

It actually sounds like a pretty good idea on the outside.  Hey, they guy is simply trying to save all this money he’s just made.

It’s actually a great idea to save for the future.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Paul wrote,

(1 Tim 5:8 KJV)  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

The problem is, where is God in this whole picture?  Where does God figure into this man’s thoughts.

:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

soulpsuche – breath; the soul

goodsagathos – of good constitution or nature; useful, salutary; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honourable

laid upkeimai – to lie; of an infant; of one buried; of things that quietly cover some spot; of vessels, of a throne, of the site of a city, of grain and other things laid up together, of a foundation

be merryeuphraino – to gladden, make joyful; to be glad, to be merry, to rejoice; to rejoice in, be delighted with a thing

take thine easeanapauo – to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labour in order to recover and collect his strength; to give rest, refresh, to give one’s self rest, take rest; to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation

This is not an “evil” word, to “take thine ease”.  Look how the Greek word is used in other places –

Jesus offers us spiritual “rest” (same Greek word)
Mt 11:28  Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Jesus told his disciples that they were working too hard and needed a break, physical “rest”
Mr 6:31  And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
There will be “rest” in heaven.
Re 6:11  And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.

So, what’s wrong with this picture?

The problem isn’t in finding “rest”, the problem is in what gives you your “rest”.
The fool is trusting in his own riches for his rest and peace of mind, instead of trusting in Jesus.

For some of us, we aren’t exactly in the category of “rich” people.  And we don’t exactly find ourselves with huge “bumper crops” coming our way.  But we have this idea that if we just had a little “more” stuff, then we’d be able to find “rest”.

Here’s a man that already has wealth, and he hadn’t found rest in it.  Will even more wealth bring him peace?  Not likely.
(Eccl 5:10-11 NLT)  Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! {11} The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth--except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!
(Prov 27:20 KJV)  Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.
It is said that the difference between a man with six children and a man with six million dollars is that the man with six million dollars wants more.

:20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee:

foolaphron (“not” + “mind”) – without reason; senseless, foolish, stupid; without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly

You can be intelligent, and still be a fool.

(Psa 14:1 KJV)  A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
The man is a fool because he has left God out of the equation of his life.

this night – this can happen at any time for any person.  We never know when God is going to say, “Your time is up”.  For this man, it happened at a time when he only got as far as “dreaming” of his bigger barns.


Dennis Barnhart was president of an aggressive, rapidly growing company, Eagle Computer Incorporated.  His life is a study in tragedy. From a small beginning, his firm grew incredibly fast.  He finally decided they should go public.  The forty-four-year-old man, as a result of this first public stock offering, became a multimillionaire virtually overnight.  Then, for some strange reason, while he was in his red Ferrari only blocks from the company headquarters, he drove his car through twenty feet of guard rail into a ravine and died.
A Los Angeles Times account read:
Until the accident at 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, it had been the best days for Barnhart and the thriving young company, which makes small business and personal computers.  Eagle netted $37 million from the initial offering of 2.75 million shares.  The stock which hit the market at $13 a share quickly rose as high as $27 before closing at a bid price of $15.50.
After describing the stock, the article added: "That made Barnharts ownership of 592,000 shares worth more than $9 million."  And that same afternoon he died in an auto accident.

soulpsuche – breath; the soul

requiredapaiteo – to ask back, demand back, exact something due

The idea is that God has originally given us our “life”, our “soul”, and one day He’s going to ask for it back.

He wants to see what you’ve done with your life, with what He’s given to you.

(Luke 19:12-26 KJV)  He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. {13} And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. {14} But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. {15} And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. {16} Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. {17} And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. {18} And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. {19} And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. {20} And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: {21} For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. {22} And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: {23} Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? {24} And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. {25} (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) {26} For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.

There will be a day when God expects you to show him what you’ve done with the life that you’ve been given.
It starts by following Jesus.  It continues with serving Jesus.

:20  then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

hast providedhetoimazo – to make ready, prepare; to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready


You leave it all behind.

It is a good thing to leave an inheritance behind for your children.
(Prov 13:22 KJV)  A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

But the contrast with this rich man in Luke 12 is that he wasn’t thinking of others, he was only thinking of himself.

This man had prepared much for himself.  He told his own “soul” to relax. But in the end he wouldn’t get to take any of it with him.
(Eccl 2:18-19 NLT)  I am disgusted that I must leave the fruits of my hard work to others. {19} And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? And yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work. How meaningless!

:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself,

layeth up treasurethesaurizo – to gather and lay up, to heap up, store up; to accumulate riches; to keep in store, store up, reserve

Nabal the fool.

(1 Sam 25:1-18; 35-39 KJV)  And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah. And David arose, and went down to the wilderness of Paran. {2} And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel. {3} Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.

Nabal – the Hebrew word means “fool”.
churlish – “harsh”

{4} And David heard in the wilderness that Nabal did shear his sheep. {5} And David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name: {6} And thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. {7} And now I have heard that thou hast shearers: now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought missing unto them, all the while they were in Carmel. {8} Ask thy young men, and they will show thee. Wherefore let the young men find favour in thine eyes: for we come in a good day: give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David.

David had been out on the road running from Saul.  But while he and his men were out in the field, they acted as protection for the Israelites around them.  They had been a blessing for the shepherds that worked for Nabal.  David thought that perhaps Nabal might respond by showing some appreciation and helping support David’s men.

{9} And when David's young men came, they spake to Nabal according to all those words in the name of David, and ceased. {10} And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master. {11} Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?

Nabal mocked David instead of saying “thanks”.  He was more concerned about keeping a tight fist on his own property rather than helping others.

{12} So David's young men turned their way, and went again, and came and told him all those sayings. {13} And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff. {14} But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal's wife, saying, Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to salute our master; and he railed on them. {15} But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields: {16} They were a wall unto us both by night and day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. {17} Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him. {18} Then Abigail made haste, and took two hundred loaves, and two bottles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on asses.

Abigail isn’t going to give all this stuff to David because of a sense of blackmail, she’s going to give this stuff to David because it’s the right thing to do.
David was so angry at the way Nabal had treated his young men that he had determined to wipe out Nabal, but when Abigail shows up, he is so taken back by her kindness that he calms down and doesn’t go on the attack.

{35} So David received of her hand that which she had brought him, and said unto her, Go up in peace to thine house; see, I have hearkened to thy voice, and have accepted thy person. {36} And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light. {37} But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. {38} And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died. {39} And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head. And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife.

And there is a happy ending here, David actually ends up marrying Abigail!
I don’t know if Nabal’s estate went to David as well, but David ended up with the man’s wife.
This man, Nabal, lost all that he had held desparately on to.  

:21  and is not rich toward God.

richplouteo – to be rich, to have abundance; of outward possessions; metaph. to be richly supplied; is affluent in resources so that he can give blessings of salvation to all

Jesus said,

(Mat 6:19-21 KJV)  Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: {20} But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: {21} For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

How can a person be “rich toward God”?

By doing good things

(1 Tim 6:17-19 KJV)  Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; {18} That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; {19} Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
You don’t have to be wealthy on earth to be rich towards God.  It’s all about doing good things for others, it’s all about doing things for the kingdom of God instead of the kingdom of “me”.

By having the right motives.

(1 Cor 13:1-3 KJV)  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. {2} And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. {3} And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
If I do great things but do them without love, agape love, then I do not find any profit in the end.

Serving + Love = riches in heaven