Luke 3:10-14. And the people asked him, What shall we do then? To avoid the judgments of God. He answereth, He that hath two coats, &c. Be careful, not only to observe the ceremonies of religion, but to attend to the great duties of justice, mercy, and charity. The sum of all is: Cease to do evil, learn to do well: these are the fruits worthy of repentance. Then came also publicans A set of men whose office it was to collect the taxes which the Romans had imposed on the Jews, and to pay them to others, who were called the chief of the publicans; and these people, being generally persons of an infamous character for their injustice and oppression, applied themselves to John, under a strong conviction of their guilt, and said, Master, what shall we do? Namely, to testify the sincerity of our repentance. And he said, Exact no more than is appointed you As if he had said, I do not require you absolutely to quit your employment, but take care that, in levying the taxes, you compel no man to pay you more than his just proportion of the sum which you are allowed by the law to raise. And the soldiers applied themselves to him on the same occasion, saying, What shall we do? The Baptist’s sermons were so affecting, that they impressed men even of the most abandoned characters, such as the private soldiers in all countries commonly are. And he said, Do violence to no man Commit no violence on any man’s person or property. “The word διασεισητε properly signifies, to take a man by the collar and shake him; and seems to have been used proverbially for that violent manner in which persons of this station of life are often ready to bully those about them, whom they imagine their inferiors in strength and spirit; though nothing is an argument of a meaner spirit, or more unworthy that true courage which constitutes so essential a part of a good military character.” Doddridge. Neither accuse any falsely Do not turn informers, and give false evidence against innocent persons, in order that with the protection of the law you may oppress them, and enrich yourselves with their spoils. The word συκοφαντειν , which we render, to accuse falsely, answers to the Hebrew עשׂק , and signifies also to circumvent and oppress. And be content with your wages Live quietly on your pay, and do not mutiny when your officers happen not to bestow on you donations and largesses to conciliate your favour. It is well known the word οψωνιοις , here rendered wages, signifies provision, or food; but, when applied to soldiers, it is generally used to signify the pay that was allotted for their subsistence. It appears that the soldiers who now addressed the Baptist were not heathen, but Jews; otherwise one part of his advice to them would certainly have been, that they should relinquish idolatry, and embrace the worship of the true God. To account for this it must be observed, that it was the custom of the Romans to recruit their armies in the conquered provinces, and, as the Jews did not scruple to engage in a military life, many of them may now have been in the emperor’s service. Or, we may suppose that after Judea was made a province, the Romans took into their pay the Jewish troops which Herod and his son Archelaus had maintained. See Macknight.
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