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Luke 12:35-48

Call to Faithful Stewardship

12:35 “Get dressed for service 1  and keep your lamps burning; 2  12:36 be like people 3  waiting for their master to come back from the wedding celebration, 4  so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 12:37 Blessed are those slaves 5  whom their master finds alert 6  when he returns! I tell you the truth, 7  he will dress himself to serve, 8  have them take their place at the table, 9  and will come 10  and wait on them! 11  12:38 Even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night 12  and finds them alert, 13  blessed are those slaves! 14  12:39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief 15  was coming, he would not have let 16  his house be broken into. 12:40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” 17 

12:41 Then 18  Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” 19  12:42 The Lord replied, 20  “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, 21  whom the master puts in charge of his household servants, 22  to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? 12:43 Blessed is that slave 23  whom his master finds at work 24  when he returns. 12:44 I tell you the truth, 25  the master 26  will put him in charge of all his possessions. 12:45 But if 27  that 28  slave should say to himself, 29  ‘My master is delayed 30  in returning,’ and he begins to beat 31  the other 32  slaves, both men and women, 33  and to eat, drink, and get drunk, 12:46 then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, 34  and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 35  12:47 That 36  servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or do what his master asked 37  will receive a severe beating. 12:48 But the one who did not know his master’s will 38  and did things worthy of punishment 39  will receive a light beating. 40  From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, 41  and from the one who has been entrusted with much, 42  even more will be asked. 43 

1 tn Grk “Let your loins be girded,” an idiom referring to the practice of tucking the ends of the long cloak (outer garment) into the belt to shorten it in preparation for activities like running, etc.

2 sn Keep your lamps burning means to be ready at all times.

3 tn That is, like slaves (who are mentioned later, vv. 37-38), although the term ἀνθρώποις (anqrwpoi") is used here. Since in this context it appears generic rather than gender-specific, the translation “people” is employed.

4 sn An ancient wedding celebration could last for days (Tob 11:18).

5 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 7:2.

6 tn Or “watching”; Grk “awake,” but in context this is not just being awake but alert and looking out.

7 tn Grk “Truly (ἀμήν, amhn), I say to you.”

8 tn See v. 35 (same verb).

9 tn Grk “have them recline at table,” as 1st century middle eastern meals were not eaten while sitting at a table, but while reclining on one’s side on the floor with the head closest to the low table and the feet farthest away.

10 tn The participle παρελθών (parelqwn) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

11 sn He…will come and wait on them is a reversal of expectation, but shows that what Jesus asks for he is willing to do as well; see John 13:5 and 15:18-27, although those instances merely foreshadow what is in view here.

12 sn The second or third watch of the night would be between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. on a Roman schedule and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on a Jewish schedule. Luke uses the four-watch schedule of the Romans in Acts 12:4, so that is more probable here. Regardless of the precise times of the watches, however, it is clear that the late-night watches when a person is least alert are in view here.

13 tn Grk “finds (them) thus”; but this has been clarified in the translation by referring to the status (“alert”) mentioned in v. 37.

14 tn Grk “blessed are they”; the referent (the watchful slaves, v. 37) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

15 sn On Jesus pictured as a returning thief, see 1 Thess 5:2, 4; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15.

16 tc Most mss (א1 A B L Q W Θ Ψ 070 Ë1,13 33 Ï lat syp,h sams bo) read “he would have watched and not let” here, but this looks like an assimilation to Matt 24:43. The alliance of two important and early mss along with a few others (Ì75 א* [D] e i sys,c samss), coupled with much stronger internal evidence, suggests that the shorter reading is authentic.

17 sn Jesus made clear that his coming could not be timed, and suggested it might take some time – so long, in fact, that some would not be looking for him any longer (at an hour when you do not expect him).

18 tn Grk “And Peter.” Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the connection to the preceding statement.

19 sn Is the parable only for disciples (us) or for all humanity (everyone)? Or does Peter mean for disciples (us) or for the crowd (everyone)? The fact that unfaithful slaves are mentioned in v. 46 looks to a warning that includes a broad audience, though it is quality of service that is addressed. This means the parable focuses on those who are associated with Jesus.

20 tn Grk “And the Lord said.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.

21 tn Or “administrator,” “steward” (L&N 37.39).

22 tn This term, θεραπεία (qerapeia), describes the group of servants working in a particular household (L&N 46.6).

23 tn See the note on the word “slave” in 7:2.

24 tn That is, doing his job, doing what he is supposed to be doing.

25 tn Grk “Truly (ἀληθῶς, alhqw"), I say to you.”

26 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the master) has been specified in the translation for clarity. See also Luke 19:11-27.

27 tn In the Greek text this is a third class condition that for all practical purposes is a hypothetical condition (note the translation of the following verb “should say”).

28 tn The term “that” (ἐκεῖνος, ekeino") is used as a catchword to list out, in the form of a number of hypothetical circumstances, what the possible responses of “that” servant could be. He could be faithful (vv. 43-44) or totally unfaithful (vv. 45-46). He does not complete his master’s will with knowledge (v. 47) or from ignorance (v 48). These differences are indicated by the different levels of punishment in vv. 46-48.

29 tn Grk “should say in his heart.”

30 tn Or “is taking a long time.”

31 sn The slave’s action in beginning to beat the other slaves was not only a failure to carry out what was commanded but involved doing the exact reverse.

32 tn The word “other” is not in the Greek text, but is implied.

33 tn Grk “the menservants and the maidservants.” The term here, used in both masculine and feminine grammatical forms, is παῖς (pais), which can refer to a slave, but also to a slave who is a personal servant, and thus regarded kindly (L&N 87.77).

34 tn The verb διχοτομέω (dicotomew) means to cut an object into two parts (L&N 19.19). This is an extremely severe punishment compared to the other two later punishments. To translate it simply as “punish” is too mild. If taken literally this servant is dismembered, although it is possible to view the stated punishment as hyperbole (L&N 38.12).

35 tn Or “unbelieving.” Here the translation employs the slightly more ambiguous “unfaithful,” which creates a link with the point of the parable – faithfulness versus unfaithfulness in servants. The example of this verse must be taken together with the examples of vv. 47-48 as part of a scale of reactions with the most disobedient response coming here. The fact that this servant is placed in a distinct group, unlike the one in vv. 47-48, also suggests ultimate exclusion. This is the hypocrite of Matt 24:51.

36 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

37 tn Grk “or do according to his will”; the referent (the master) has been specified in the translation for clarity. This example deals with the slave who knew what the command was and yet failed to complete it.

38 tn Grk “did not know”; the phrase “his master’s will” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects were frequently omitted in Greek when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the contemporary English reader.

39 tn Grk “blows.”

40 tn Grk “will receive few (blows).”

41 tn Grk “required from him”; but the words “from him” are redundant in English and have not been translated.

42 sn Entrusted with much. To be gifted with precious responsibility is something that requires faithfulness.

43 tn Grk “they will ask even more.”

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