δοκεῖ ἔχειν The “Haves” and the “Have-Nots”

Luke 8:18 hit me hard this morning.

“So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” (NASB)

The translation muddies the meaning. The word “more” is added and I’m not sure why. Here’s a literal translation:

Take care how you listen. For whoever has, it will be given to him. But whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.

The word translated “seems to have” is δοκει. It’s the root of Docetism, the Gnostic idea that Jesus only seemed to be flesh and blood. 

In this verse, Jesus is talking about true “having.” There are real things that a person really has. Love, kindness, integrity, etc. Then there are things that we don’t really have: boats, cars, money. None of that matters a bit on the last day. They are only the appearance of having. We only seem to have those things. They are not ultimately real.

This world deals in appearances. It seems to offer things to have. You want to be a “have,” not a “have-not.” What Jesus is saying is that in the Kingdom of God, having is not what it appears.

That takes me to the first phrase of this verse. Take care HOW you listen. Interesting. To me this is a warning not to pay attention to this world’s endless parade of goodies. Jesus is saying, “Don’t take the bait! It’s fake!” I have to be careful how I listen. It’s easy to listen like the fallen world. 

2 Comments

  1. Paul Smythe on October 15, 2017 at 1:53 am

    Thanks Dr. Robertson! That’s a good word. I have never looked at this passage in Greek. There is some nice color added to translate Dokei as think AND seem. The things we think we have also seem to be securely ours by others. At a Bible study the other day it dawned on me that our American culture that strives for and so greatly values self sufficiency is striving after the wind too. Even the most self sufficient looking or seeming person is still dependant, usually on the idols that function as security and provision (property, IRA, gold, a coming inheritance…) But just like the man who built the barns to relax in retirement and died, it’s the same temptation we face, to amass wealth and trust in our portfolios rather than in our Father.

    I appreciate the encouragement and warning not to take the bait of the world, even when it “seems” others who dont love the Lord have so much and live any easy life.

  2. Dr. Maury Robertson on October 15, 2017 at 5:43 am

    Great to hear from you Paul! And glad it hit home. I love what you wrote.

Leave a Comment