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Luke 12:40-53

Context
12:40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” 1 

12:41 Then 2  Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” 3  12:42 The Lord replied, 4  “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, 5  whom the master puts in charge of his household servants, 6  to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? 12:43 Blessed is that slave 7  whom his master finds at work 8  when he returns. 12:44 I tell you the truth, 9  the master 10  will put him in charge of all his possessions. 12:45 But if 11  that 12  slave should say to himself, 13  ‘My master is delayed 14  in returning,’ and he begins to beat 15  the other 16  slaves, both men and women, 17  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, 18  and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 19  12:47 That 20  servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or do what his master asked 21  will receive a severe beating. 12:48 But the one who did not know his master’s will 22  and did things worthy of punishment 23  will receive a light beating. 24  From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, 25  and from the one who has been entrusted with much, 26  even more will be asked. 27 

Not Peace, but Division

12:49 “I have come 28  to bring 29  fire on the earth – and how I wish it were already kindled! 12:50 I have a baptism 30  to undergo, 31  and how distressed I am until it is finished! 12:51 Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 32  12:52 For from now on 33  there will be five in one household divided, three against two and two against three. 12:53 They will be divided, 34  father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

1 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).

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

3 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 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”).

12 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.

13 tn Grk “should say in his heart.”

14 tn Or “is taking a long time.”

15 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.

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

17 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).

18 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).

19 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.

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

21 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.

22 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.

23 tn Grk “blows.”

24 tn Grk “will receive few (blows).”

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

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

27 tn Grk “they will ask even more.”

28 sn This mission statement, “I have come to bring fire on the earth,” looks to the purging and division Jesus causes: See Luke 3:9, 17; 9:54; 17:29 for fire, 5:32; 7:34; 9:58; 12:51 for the topic of mission.

29 tn Grk “cast.” For βάλλω (ballw) in the sense of causing a state or condition, see L&N 13.14.

30 sn The figure of the baptism is variously interpreted, as some see a reference (1) to martyrdom or (2) to inundation with God’s judgment. The OT background, however, suggests the latter sense: Jesus is about to be uniquely inundated with God’s judgment as he is rejected, persecuted, and killed (Ps 18:4, 16; 42:7; 69:1-2; Isa 8:7-8; 30:27-28; Jonah 2:3-6).

31 tn Grk “to be baptized with.”

32 tn Or “hostility.” This term pictures dissension and hostility (BDAG 234 s.v. διαμερισμός).

33 sn From now on is a popular phrase in Luke: 1:48; 5:10; 22:18, 69; see Mic 7:6.

34 tn There is dispute whether this phrase belongs to the end of v. 52 or begins v. 53. Given the shift of object, a connection to v. 53 is slightly preferred.



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