[B-Greek] Luke 12:49-50

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat Oct 24 09:14:01 EDT 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "George F Somsel" <gfsomsel at yahoo.com>
To: "Samuel Cripps" <crippssamuel at yahoo.com>; <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 23. oktober 2009 19:19
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Luke 12:49-50

> Who is being baptized is simple. This is a passive inf so it is the speaker,
> Jesus, who MUST undergo this baptism. Who is doing the baptism is not stated.
> It could be God who brings it about or the Roman government or the religious
> leaders. It establishes, however, a sequence by implication due to the
> contrast expressed (δὲ DE): First Jesus must undergo his baptism after which
> (at some unstated time) he will "cast fire on the earth" (judgment). He
> desires that his baptism were already completed.
> george
> gfsomsel

Iver: Since George suggested that "fire" here stands for judgment, I'd like to
make a brief comment and try to talk in terms of Greek grammar.

How a mataphor like "fire" is to be understood IMO depends among other things on
the syntax in question, not just the lexical item PUR.

1. If "fire" is the destination and associated with GEENNA, it indicates severe
and final punishment. The normal phrasing is "X is thrown into the (lake of)
fire". We find this in places like Matt 3:10,12; 5:22; 7:19; 13:40,42,50;
18:8,9; 25:41 (and Gospel parallels), Heb 10:27; 2 Pet 3:7; Jude 1:7, Rev 19:20;
20:10,14,15; 21:8.

2. If "fire" occurs as an instrument in a metaphorical sense, it refers to
testing and refinement/purification, e.g.
Mat 3:11, Mrk 9:49; Luk 3:16; 1 Cor 3:13; 1 Pet 1:7; Rev 3:18 (Maybe also Act

3. In a few cases "fire" is used to indicate that something small can spread to
something big, e.g.
Luk 12:49; (Maybe Act 2:3); James 3:5,6. This is similar to the spread of
leaven, but more spectacular.

I find it improbable that "fire" in Luk 12:49 should refer to either 1 or 2,
because the syntax is different. Here the fire is object rather than destination
or instrument: Jesus has come to throw a fire(brand) on earth, including its
inhabitants, so that the earth is set on fire (spiritually speaking). In
addition, he wishes that this powerful movement had already taken root, and I
don't think Jesus was wishing for the earth to be punished. He came to save the
There are several interpretations of the meaning of fire in this particular
verse, so one cannot be dogmatic, but I think it stands for the Kingdom of God
as it was soon to spread in the power of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost.

The NET notes on these verses are particularly misleading, but most commentators
are IMO floundering.

Iver Larsen

> ________________________________
> From: Samuel Cripps <crippssamuel at yahoo.com>
> To: b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org
> Sent: Fri, October 23, 2009 8:31:43 AM
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Luke 12:49-50
> My apologies. Let me try again.
> Please take a look at Luke 12:49-50
> πυρ ηλθον βαλειν επι την γην και τι θελω ει ηδη ανηφθηβαπτισμα δε εχω
> βαπτισθηναι και πως συνεχομαι εως οτου τελεσθη
> I have three questions:
> 1. Who is doing the baptizing?
> 2. Who is being baptized?
> 3. Do these two verses cons titute a Hebraism, i.e., a synonymous parallelism?
> Thanks,
> Sam Cripps (layman)

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