Luke 12:35-48  

  Luke records some teachings of Jesus that parallel what He taught during the final week before the crucifixion. It might be that Jesus taught the same information on more than one occasion, or that Luke simply records the same information but without any chronological context as does Matthew. One such example is found at Luke 12:42-48, which is also recorded at Matthew 24:45-51. However, within the same context as what is given by the other Synoptics (The Synoptic gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke), Luke often adds additional teachings not included by those others. We see this in the Parable of the Watchful Servants, which is found at Luke 12:35-41. But even though this parable is not recorded by Matthew or Mark, it directly correlates with the other parables of the second coming found in each of the synoptics.

Luke 12:35

"Be dressed in readiness, and {keep} your lamps alight.

This is addressed to those who will be living between Christ's departure from this earth (ascension) and His second coming. The issue is preparation through salvation relationship with God, which is acquired through trust in Jesus as the Messiah/Savior. Those who are thus prepared will be rescued from the affliction of those who are persecuting them, just as Paul taught at 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

Luke 12:36

And be like men who are waiting for their master
when he returns from the wedding feast,
so that they may immediately open {the door} to him
when he comes and knocks.

The slaves are members of the human race, all of which have creature responsibility to God and to God's Son, the Savior. Those who are waiting for the master are ones who have trusted in Christ as Savior and have a salvation relationship with God. The wedding feast is simply a part of the parable and has no spiritual correlation with the wedding of the church to Christ. Remember that a parable relates a normal situation in life in order to communicate one or two basic spiritual truths, and one should not take every detail of the parable and try to find a spiritual counterpart with some aspect of revealed truth. The return of the master from the wedding feast communicates the second coming of Christ, which is viewed here as being unexpected and without warning. That unexpectedness is explained at verse 40 as having no knowledge of the day, but does not preclude knowing the general season of the Master's return. Matthew records it at verse 24:50, as not knowing either the day OR the hour.

Luke 12:37

Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find
on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you,
that he will gird himself {to serve,} and have them recline
{at the table,} and will come up and wait on them.

Those of humanity who have trusted in Christ will be honored by Him. The language of mutual fellowship suggests the gathering of these believers to Himself when He comes in the clouds of the sky (Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1).

Luke 12:38

Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third,
and finds {them} so, blessed are those {slaves.}

Both Matthew (Matthew 14:25) and Mark (Mark 13:35), divide the night hours into four watches, using the Roman system of measurement, and there is no reason to think that Luke would use the Jewish system, which divides those hours into three watches. The second watch thus, refers to the hours of 9 PM to 12 AM, and the third watch, from 12 AM to 3 AM.

However, I don't think that one can determine from this that Jesus will return at night because what is night in one part of the world is day in another part. It is simply used to indicate what has already been stated as unexpectedness.

Luke 12:39

And be sure of this, that if the head of the house
had known at what hour the thief was coming,
he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

This reference to moral responsibility to one's home and household, not only gives divine support for the exercise of self defense in a burglar situation, but further illustrates the benefit of preparation for Christ's return.

Luke 12:40

You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming
at an hour that you do not expect.

Once again, this is addressed to all members of the human race and exhorts preparation for Christ's return. Being ready refers to having a salvation relationship with God through personal trust in Jesus as one's Savior.

Luke 12:41

And Peter said, "Lord, are You addressing this parable to us,
or to everyone {else} as well?

Peter recognizes the general application of Jesus' teaching here, so asks for clarification. Does this exhortation apply to all people or just to the disciples? Jesus answers this by giving another parable (Verses 42-46), in which it is clearly stated that the consequence for not being prepared is total rejection and dismissal to the place of the unfaithful.

Luke 12:46

"The master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect
{him,} and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces,
and assign him a place with the unbelievers."

This parable is also mentioned at Matthew 24:45-51, but Luke adds some factors that amplify the spiritual truths illustrated. The ONE spiritual lesson of this parable is that at the return of Jesus, there will be some who are accepted and some who are rejected. Beyond this, it is not wise to find too many other spiritual correlations to the many embellishments in the story.

I have already referenced and discussed the doctrine of salvation security and need only to remind the reader here, that it is impossible for a person who has been saved by God and is being held in God's grasp to ever lose his salvation. The unprepared servant here is clearly one who has not trusted in Jesus as the Messiah/Savior, has no relationship with God, and will be totally rejected at the return of Jesus for His elect.

There are some who think that this parable should be applied to believers only, and that the faithful slave is the believer in fellowship, and the unfaithful slave, the believer out of fellowship. The obvious focus in this parable is rejection of the unfaithful slave when Jesus returns. The believer, no matter whether he is in or out of fellowship with God will be gathered unto the Lord at His return, and the language of total rejection that occurs in this parable, cannot refer to any believer at that time. Part of the total rejection language in this parable is an assignment to the place of the hypocrite (Matthew 24:51) and the unfaithful (Luke 12:46), and the placement of the believer anywhere but "My Father's house (John 14:1-3)," at Christ's return is contrary to Scripture. (See Discussion on the partial rapture theory).

Luke 12:42

And the Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward,
whom his master will put in charge of his servants,
to give them their rations at the proper time?

The illustration pictures mankind in general, all of whom have creature responsibility to the Creator and are accountable to Him for having a right relationship with Him through faith in the Messiah. The servant who is faithful is one who has trusted in Jesus Christ as the Messiah/Savior.

Luke 12:43-44

Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.
Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

The language in the parable is symbolic of what happens when Jesus returns. It refers to the blessing of being with Christ, and should not be taken as some kind of literal assignment of responsibility. When Jesus returns, all who have trusted in Him will be gathered out of the earth, taken to heaven, and enter into eternal peace.

Luke 12:45

But if that slave says in his heart,
"My master will be a long time in coming,"
and begins to beat the slaves, {both} men and women,
and to eat and drink and get drunk;

This refers to a person, who in creature arrogance, ignores the Creator's call upon his life and chooses not to trust in Christ as the Savior. But instead, lives in the self-centeredness of his sin nature, indulging his pleasure lusts and oppressing others. The "long time in coming" phrase reminds us of what Peter writes at 2 Peter 3:3-4.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come
with {their} mocking, following after their own lusts,
and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming?
For {ever} since the fathers fell asleep,
all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."

Luke 12:46

the master of that slave will come on a day
when he does not expect {him,} and at an hour he does not know,
and will cut him in pieces,
and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

When Jesus comes back to this earth at the Day of the Lord, He will come as a thief in the night (1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 3:3; 16:15), unexpectedly (suddenly) and without warning to the unbelieving world (1 Thes. 5:3; Luke 21:34). For that matter, it is even possible for believers to be unprepared through carnality and be caught of guard (1 Thes. 5:4-11; Luke 21:34-36). However, all believers will be taken out, and only the unbelievers will remain to undergo the Day of the Lord judgments, and ultimately end up in the lake of fire unless they change their mind and believe in Christ during the period between the rapture and Armageddon. Paul mentions both aspects of judgment at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9. At verse 6, "repay with affliction" refers to the Day of the Lord judgments (the wrath of God) administered to the unbelievers on the earth. At verse 9, "the penalty of eternal ruin," refers to the last judgment which assigns the unbelievers to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). When Jesus returns the unbeliever will be rejected by Him and remain on the earth. This rejection is communicated in the parable by the phrase, cut him in pieces.

This is a difficult statement. The Greek MEANS to cut something into two parts, however, based on context here, it seems to be idiomatic for scourging. Cut into two pieces would imply physical death, and if that were the case, then for this slave (in this normal human context), the fact that he would then be assigned to the place of the unbeliever (hypocrite at Matthew 24:51), would be quite meaningless. In addition, in the Luke passage, the fact that we have this category of disobedient slave divided into two types, who each receive different lashes from the whip, would indicate that the idea of "cut him in pieces" refers to a scourging rather than physical death. We do not have 3 different categories of faithless humanity here. We have only two and both will be "cut in pieces" when the master returns. However, if upon or after being cut in pieces, they are then assigned LASHES based on their respective awareness of God's demands upon them, then the idea of death associated with "cut in pieces," is not valid. Thus, it seems more reasonable that the term refers to the idea of scourging that really CUTS into the skin and peels it away from the body.

The immediate problem with this is that we have no other place where the term is used in our literature (except at Exodus 29:17 in the LXX), and it is used quite consistently in secular literature for the practice of using sword or saw to cut someone in half. But I think that the context is stronger and I will interpret the phrase, "cut him in pieces," as the idea of a serious scourging.

After being rejected by Jesus at His return, the unbeliever is assigned to the place of the unfaithful hypocrite, (Matthew). He does not go immediately to that place, but is simply assigned to it. The final placement in the lake of fire will not occur until the last judgment, and although he will be rejected at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus, he will still have occasion to trust in Christ up until the battle of Armageddon. After that, all unbelievers will be removed from the earth and placed in Hades.

Then, sometime after the experience of flogging, the unbeliever will be assigned to the place of the unfaithful hypocrite, and at that place there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth."

This image simply communicates the extreme sorrow, anger and frustration with what the person is experiencing in this place of judgment.

The phrase, "weeping and gnashing of teeth," only occurs 7 times in the Bible and always in connection with the final disposition of the wicked when he has been cast into the gehenna of fire (Matthew 8:12; 13:42; 13:50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28).

In verses 47-48, we have an amplification of the punishment of being "cut in pieces" (scourging) based on personal knowledge of one's responsibility to God. This passage has been used to teach that there are degrees of punishment in hell, and on the surface, this seems to suggest that. However, the key is to recognize that the PRIMARY theme or lesson of this parable is that of acceptance or rejection by the Messiah at the Day of the Lord, and that eternal destiny is not even in view.

At the same time, it is difficult to determine the significance of these two very clear distinctions in punishment, that cannot be dismissed from the parable as an insignificant embellishment.

There will be two types of unbeliever left behind at the day of the Lord return of Jesus. (1) The one who was fully aware of what God expected of him, and (2) the one who did not know what God expected of him.

Luke 12:47

"And that slave who knew his master's will
and did not get ready or act in accord with his will,
shall receive many lashes,

This clearly indicates the administration of a more severe punishment upon the one who is blatantly rebellious against God. It seems that these different degrees of punishment take place at the return of the Lord rather than at some time subsequent to that return.

The puzzle is, that one cannot advance much upon being left behind at the rapture. What then would be the significance of more lashes vs. fewer lashes?

The reason for this difference is stated at verse 48b as the principle of greater accountability. That is, the person who knows more of God's will for their life, is more accountable to God for failure, than is the one who knows less. I suggest that in this parable, the principle revolves around the gospel message. The doctrine of evangelism teaches that God reveals himself through the physical creation so that people can become aware of His existence; His eternal power and divinity (Romans 1:19-20).

The one who accepts this NATURAL revelation about God and begins to seek for Him will be given the specific gospel information about the Messiah's salvation provision. This person will be held accountable for accepting or rejecting the specific gospel message of "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31). However, if at the point of God consciousness, a person rejects the NATURAL revelation about God as seen in the physical universe, then God will have no obligation to give to that person the specifics of the gospel message. This person will be held accountable for his rejection (without excuse, Romans 1:20), and still be judged as an unbeliever, but the divine indictment will be less severe in that he did not PERSONALLY reject Jesus as the Christ. This is taught by Jesus at Matthew 11:20-24.

Then He began to reproach the cities in which most of His miracles
were done, because they did not repent.
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon
which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Nevertheless I say to you,
it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in {the} day of judgment, than for you.
And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you?
You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred
in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day.
Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for
the land of Sodom in {the} day of judgment, than for you.

The performance of MIRACLES mentioned in this discourse refers to the visible manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah and indicates that greater revelation was given to Christ's generation than to the former generations mentioned. The unbelievers of both generations will be held accountable for their unbelief and both will be assigned to the lake of fire, but the former will receive a less severe indictment at the last judgment. The question is, does this "more tolerable" idea refer simply to the initial rebuke at the great white throne, or to the actual degree of eternal ruin (2 Thes. 1:9) in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15)?

Where is the PUNCH? What is the significance of this warning by Jesus to the people of His generation, IF they simply receive a more severe verbal rebuke at the last judgment, BUT, share equally the torment in the lake of fire (Rev. 14:10-11; 20:10, 15)? It is very possible that the "punch" is the fact that the soul of the unbeliever is going to be more sad and miserable in view of HAVING KNOWN what was expected of him. Whereas, the unbeliever who did not know will be less disturbed at the Day of the Lord. HOWEVER, It might be more reasonable to think that the ignorant unbeliever would be MORE frustrated, angry and miserable, since the suffering he is in for was UNEXPECTED. The unbeliever who did know will also realize that the suffering he is going through was well proclaimed to him during is life on earth.

Luke 12:48a

but the one who did not know {it,}
and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.

Again, we can clearly see that a less severe punishment is administered upon the one who is rebellious against God, but who does so ignorantly, that is, without a full understanding of his obligation to the Creator.

This is the one who has become aware of God via God Consciousness type revelation, but has not expressed interest in the Creator enough to elicit from God the proclamation of the gospel to that person.

Luke 12:48b

And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required;
and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

This refers to the one who has been taught the gospel and has rejected it. He is held more accountable and will receive a more severe indictment such as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 11:20-24.


Questions and comments are always welcome

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