Luke 12 – The Servants

I enjoy reading Luke, in many places he has bits of information that help explain things from the other gospels.

In Luke 12 for example, there is one section that is paralleled in both Matthew and Mark (though more closely in Matthew), and there is one verse in Luke that is not in the other gospels. This verse helps explain the entire section much more clearly.

Luke 12: 35-48

35“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. 39But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

41Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

42The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

47“That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

The verse of particular note here is verse 41 and then the subsequent verses.

Matthew 24:42-51

42“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

You will notice here that there is no parallel to Luke 12:41 or Luke 12:47-48. Matthew 24:42-44 fairly closely matches Luke 12:35-40. Similarly Matthew 24:45-51 fairly closely match Luke 12:42-46. Some of the wording is different though, and in Luke this slight differentiation in wording along with the extra verse that isn’t in Matthew make it significantly clearer.

Matthew 24:45

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?

The wording is such that everyone involved is perceived as a servant, and while this is accurate, it can make it seem a bit irrelevant. Here, it’s just a matter of which servant is in charge of the other servants.

Luke 12:42

The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?

Comparatively, in Luke 12:42, the one in charge of the other servants is referred to as a manager. While the other wording is the same, “faithful and wise”, the use of the term manager gives us the perception that this servant is probably more learned than the others and has proven himself to be responsible. As such this servant has been entrusted with the greater responsibility of being a manager.

Luke 12:41

Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

The inclusion of this short, simple verse gives the passage more clarity because we have people to directly relate it to.

Who does the master put in charge (vs 42)? In other words, who does Jesus leave in charge to feed the others that serve him? He leaves in charge other servants who’s role is entirely to look after the others and feed them. At the time this was written, that was the apostles, in essence, the ministers or pastors of the time.

The parallel passages in Matthew, Mark and Luke all mean the same thing, but that slight difference in wording and the inclusion of Peter’s question in Luke make it all the more clear.

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