And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And that servant, which knew his lord’s will.—The verses that follow (Luke 12:47-50) are peculiar to St. Luke, and every word is full of profoundest interest. First there comes a warning to the disciples who knew their Lord’s will, who had been told to watch for His coming, to prepare themselves and others for it. That “will” included the use of all gifts and opportunities, as in the parables of the Pounds and the Talents, with faithfulness and activity in using them. On those who, with their eyes open, were sinning against light and knowledge (our Lord’s words had, we can scarcely doubt, a latent reference to Judas) there should come, in this world or in the world to come, a penalty proportionably severe.Luke 12:47-48. And that servant which knew his lord’s will, &c. — Lest the consideration of the strictness of the account, and the greatness of the punishment, described in the parable, might terrify men of honest dispositions, who are liable to err merely through weakness, Jesus showed them, that as offences differ greatly in their circumstances and aggravations, so shall they differ in their punishments also. To understand this part of our Lord’s discourse, we must suppose that the steward here spoken of had received full instruction from his lord, either before his departure, or afterward by letters, how he was to employ himself and the servants under his care. Wherefore, if he neglected his duty, he was more to blame than the inferior servants, who had no knowledge of their lord’s will but from the steward, who might conceal it from them, if he had a mind to serve any by-end of his own. In this respect, how fitly does the parable describe the aggravations of the sin of the ministers and teachers of religion, who have such singular advantages for knowing Christ’s will. In this light, it shows the justice of the more severe punishments here denounced as to be inflicted on them for such wilful neglects and miscarriages, as they are found to be guilty of in the discharge of their office. The expressions, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his lord’s will, deserve particular attention; for here the sense rises above that of the foregoing verse. It is as if our Lord had said, Think not that I merely intend to forbid such gross immoralities as drunkenness, riot, oppression, &c.; but be assured that sins of omission, where there have been fair opportunities of learning your duty, will expose you to the divine correction: shall be beaten with many stripes — Shall have the sorest punishment inflicted on him. Scourging was a usual punishment for negligent servants. But he that knew not, &c. — The opposition between this and the preceding verse is, between a servant who receives an express message from his master, which he contradicts, and another who, though he received no such express message, yet falls into such instances of misbehaviour as he cannot but know to be inconsistent with his duty and office in general; by which he exposes himself justly to some punishment, though, other things being equal, he is less criminal than the former. And did commit things worthy of stripes — Here our Lord’s words strongly intimate, that ignorance will not entirely excuse any who have neglected God’s service, since they might, in general, have known at least the main branches of their duty, as every servant may know, in the main, what kind of conduct his master will approve; though some may be much more fully instructed than others as to his particular pleasure. It may be further observed, that as rational creatures, it is as much our duty to cultivate our reason, and to inquire into, and know our duty, as it is to act agreeably to the knowledge we have. Unto whomsoever much is given, &c. — In the divine administration, the rule of judgment shall be observed which men themselves think just, and put in practice in their commerce one with another. The more advantages any one enjoys, the greater improvement will be expected of him, and the more severely will he be punished if he come short.
Many stripes - Shall be severely and justly punished. They who have many privileges, who are often warned, who have the gospel, and do not repent and believe, shall be far more severely punished than others. They who are early taught in Sunday schools, or by pious parents, or in other ways, and who grow up in sin and impenitence, will have much more to answer for than those who have no such privileges.
the unbelievers—the unfaithful, those unworthy of trust (Mt 24:51), "the hypocrites," falsely calling themselves "servants."See Poole on "Luke 12:42"
and prepared not himself; so the Arabic and Ethiopic versions supply, but the Syriac version, "for him", that is, for his Lord: but it may as well be read as in the Vulgate Latin, without any supplement, "and prepared not"; he took no thought nor care about doing it; there is no preparation, readiness, nor disposition, in a natural man, to the will of God: no man is prepared or ready to do it, but he that is regenerated, or is made a new creature; who has the laws of God written on his heart, and who has the Spirit of God put within him, to cause him to keep them; and who has faith in Christ, and strength from him to observe them; but there may be knowledge, where such a preparation is wanting; persons may know much, and profess to know more, and in works deny all, and be to every good work, unfit, disobedient, and reprobate: this clause is left out in the Persic version:
neither did according to his will; the will of God is done aright, when what is done, is done according to the command of God, in the strength of Christ, from love to him, in the exercise of faith on him, and with a view to his glory, and without any dependence on what is done; but there may be knowledge, without any thing of this: the words, "neither did", are wanting in the Syriac version: and such a man that has knowledge without practice,
shall be beaten with many stripes; alluding to the law of the Jews, by which a wicked man was to be punished, by beating him with stripes, not exceeding, forty, according to the nature of his fault, Deuteronomy 25:2 and here it signifies, that persons who have light and knowledge, and the means thereof, and act not according to them, shall be punished with the greatest severity, and endure the greatest degree of torments in hell; seeAnd that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 12:47-48. This passage, which is peculiar to Luke, gives explanatory information of a general kind, yet related to Matthew 25:14 ff., to account for the severity of the punishment, Luke 12:46. This will ensue, in accordance with the general rule of retribution coming into operation at the return of the Lord: that that slave, etc. Ἐκεῖνος, though placed first for emphasis, does not refer to the single concrete person indicated at Luke 12:45, but is a general term indicating the class to which the οἰκονόμος also belongs; and δέ carries on the meaning with an explanatory force (Hermann, ad Viger. p. 845; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 1).
ἑαυτοῦ] of his own Lord, makes the responsibility to be felt the more strongly.
ἑτοιμάσας] ἑαυτόν is not to be supplied (Luther, Kuinoel, and many others), but: and has not made ready, has made no preparation. Comp. Luke 9:52. It belongs also to πρὸς τὸ θέλ. αὐτοῦ.
δαρήσεται πολλάς] πληγὰς δηλονότι (see Schaefer, ad Bos. Ell. p. 387; Valckenaer, Schol. p. 214; Winer, p. 520 [E. T. 737]), τουτέστι κολασθήσονται χαλεπῶς, διότι εἰδότες κατεφρόνησαν, Euthymius Zigabenus. On the accusative, comp. μαστιγοῦσθαι πληγάς, Plat. Legg. viii. p. 845 B, and see Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 164 [E. T. 189].
Luke 12:48. ὁ δὲ μὴ γνούς] but the slave, who shall not have learnt to know it. Such a one cannot be left without punishment, not because he has not obeyed the Lord’s will (for that has remained unknown to him), but because he has done that which deserves punishment; even for such a one there is that which deserves punishment, because, in general, he had the immediate moral consciousness of his relation to his Lord as a subjective standard (comp. Romans 2:12 ff.), even although he did not possess the objective law of the Lord’s will positively made known to him, on which account also a lighter punishment ensues. Theophylact and Euthymius Zigabenus are wrong in thinking here of such as could have learnt to know the Lord’s will, but from laziness and frivolity have not learnt to know it. An arbitrary limitation; and can such an ignorance diminish the responsibility? Romans 1:28 ff. We can the less regard the responsibility as diminished when we remember that by ὁ δὲ μὴ γνούς is described the case of a slave of Christ, who has remained ignorant of his Lord’s will.
παντὶ δὲ κ.τ.λ.] but of every one, in order, moreover, still to add this general law as explanatory information on the subject of that so severe punishment, Luke 12:46, etc.
ἐδόθη πολύ] in official duties, as to the οἰκονόμος.
πολὺ ζητήσεται] in official efficiency. The collocation of πολὺ, πολύ, and then πολὺ, περισσότερον, has a special emphasis.
The second member ᾧ παρέθεντο (the categoric plural, as at Luke 12:20 : in reality κύριος is the subject) κ.τ.λ. is a parallel similar in meaning to the first, but with the climax: περισσότερον, which is not to be taken as: “plus quam aliis, quibus non tam multa concredita sunt” (Kuinoel, Bleek, following Beza, Grotius, and others, which would be insipid, and a mere matter of course), but: in the case of him to whom much has been entrusted (with whom a large sum has been deposited), still more than this entrusted πολύ will be required of him. In this statement is implied the presupposition that the capital sum must have been increased by interest of exchange or by profit of commerce. Comp. Matthew 25:15 ff. The deposit was not to lie idle. On παρατίθεσθαι, comp. Herod. vi. 86; Xen. R. Ath. ii. 16; Polybius, iii. 17. 10, xxxiii. 12. 3; Tob 1:14; 1Ma 9:35. The construction in both members is a well-known form of attraction, Kühner, II. p. 512; Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 247 [E. T. 288].Luke 12:47-48. Degrees of guilt and punishment, in Lk. only, and serving as an apology for the severity of the punishment as described in Luke 12:46. That punishment presupposes anger. The statement now made is to the effect: penalty inflicted not as passion dictates but as principle demands.—ὁ δοῦλος ὁ γνοὺς, etc.: describes the case of a servant who knows the master’s will but does not do it (μηδὲ ποιήσας), nay, does not even intend or try to do it (μὴ ἑτοιμάσας), deliberately, audaciously negligent.—δαρήσεται πολλάς (πληγάς): many stripes justly his portion.47. shall be beaten with many stripes] Exceptional privileges if rejected involve exceptional guilt and punishment, Luke 10:13; James 4:17; 2 Peter 2:21.Luke 12:47. Τὸ θέλημα, will) whereby vigilance is required.—μὴ ἑτοιμάσας, [having got ready]) Neuter, as in ch. Luke 9:52. [There follows ποιήσας in respect of the servant himself: for ἑτοιμάσας has respect to others, whom the servant ought to have got ready.—V. g.]—ΠΟΛΛᾺς, many) viz. πληγὰς, stripes. The same ellipsis occurs, 2 Corinthians 11:24.
 Engl. Vers. understands ἑαυτὸν to ἑτοιμάσας, “prepared not himself:” it thus loses the point of distinction between ἑτοιμάσας and ποιήσας.—ED. and TRANSL.Verses 47, 48. - And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required. These verses are easy to understand. They explain the broad principles upon which the foregoing statements, in parable and in direct teaching, are based. Rewards and punishments will be allotted in the coming world with strict justice. To some, great knowledge of the Divine will is given and splendid opportunities of work are afforded; to such, if only they are faithful and true, will indeed a high place in the city of God be allotted; but alas for them in the life to come if they fail, if they miss the splendid chance of being true toilers with and for God! Their portion will be the many stripes. To others a knowledge of the Divine will, scanty compared with these just spoken of, is given, and opportunities of doing high and noble work are here comparatively few; if these use the little knowledge and seize the few opportunities, they will, while occupying a lower grade in the hierarchy of heaven, still enjoy the perfect bliss of friendship with God. The punishment for failure here is designated by the few stripes. In this solemn passage it is notable that degrees or grades in punishment as well as degrees or grades in glory are distinctly spoken of.
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