WHAT ARE “BENEFACTORS?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
On the night of Christ’s last Passover, the following exchange was held between Him and His disciples. Luke chapter 22: “ But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.  And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!  And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.  And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.  And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.  But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.  For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.  Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.  And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;  That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The Lord Jesus’ words in verse 25 describe despots, bullies, or tyrants—people striving to be on top so they may dominate or oppress others. The Gentiles were idolatrous and under Satan’s control (Acts 14:15-16; Acts 17:29-30; Ephesians 2:2,11,12; Ephesians 4:17-19). Consequently, they were competing with each other to obtain the highest offices of government; in doing so, they would be at the center of attention, having the most influence over people (“exercise lordship”). Even today, such narcissists oft occupy political offices all around the world—including (sadly) church leadership positions!! The Lord Jesus knew such an attitude did not belong in His Father’s kingdom, so He sharply rebuked His disciples for their rivalry in Luke chapter 22. This was a recurring problem among them!!! See Matthew 18:1-6, Matthew 20:20-28, Mark 9:33-37, and Mark 10:35-45.
What made ancient authoritarians so hypocritical was they were styled “benefactors.” “Benefactors” is “euergetes,” taken from two Greek words: one is “eu” (“good”), the other is “ergon” (“work”). To wit, a “benefactor” is a “worker of good,” synonymous with “philanthropist.” It was a title of honor or flattery, a favorite name especially among the Greek kings of Egypt and Syria. Ironically, these so-called “benefactors”—that is, “doers of good” (HA!!)—were usually self-centered. “Benefactor” was actually a misnomer. Whatever “good” they did for their people, it was simply to advance their own political career and acquire more praises and loyalty from their subjects. Stated another way, it was a popularity contest… and the Lord spoke up because He absolutely refused to let His disciples behave so foolishly and sinfully.