I have been unable to gain a consensus on whether Jesus was referring to Ministers etc in Luke 12:47 as David Guzik asserts or if both verses 47 & 48 refer to the amount of knowledge of one has of God's word as John Gill and several others assert?

Luke 12:47 & 48 KJV

47 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. 48 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: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

David Guzik's commentary

Selected exerpts

For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known: The 
art of being a hypocrite depends on concealment, but one day all will be revealed. We can
only be hypocrites before men, but never before God. He sees through the actor's mask we
put on.

    In 1985, a nationally known evangelist and preacher wrote a book condemning sin in
   America, especially sexual sin and pornography. Just a short time later, he tearfully 
   confessed years of involvement in these very sins, and promised repentance - but was
   arrested for similar crimes again a few years down the road. His hypocrisy may have 
   surprised many people, but not God. He knew all along.

Peter said to Him, "Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people? Jesus answers Peter, saying that this is addressed to every one, that all are to be like a faithful and wise steward (manager).

In this sense, we are all in the Jesus Management Training school. He is teaching us
all how to be good, godly stewards for Him.

All who are servants of Jesus must be ready for His return, but those who are ministers 
among His servants must all the more be ready. "Ignorance of the Divine shall not
wholly excuse the sinner, he shall be beaten, but his stripes shall be few, his damnation
shall be gentle compared with a minister's, that knows his Master's will but does it not;
teaches it to others, but does it not himself . . . God looks upon wicked, loose, and 
scandalous and mischievous ministers as the greatest transgressors, and he will deal 
with them as such." (Poole)

John Gill's commentary

And that servant which knew his Lord's will,.... Not his secret, but his revealed  
will; the will of God, which lies in the declarations of his grace and mercy in the
Gospel, and in the commands and ordinances expressed in his word; and which are the  
good, perfect, and acceptable will of God; the knowledge of which is necessary, in
order to practice: and where there is a spiritual and saving knowledge, there   
will be practice: but there may be knowledge, where there is no practice, and which  
was the case here: Christ here distinguishes between wicked servants, some being 
knowing, and others ignorant; and accordingly the aggravations of their guilt are 
more or less:

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,

here are some Scriptures I have consulted in search of an answer

John 15:22 KJV

If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no
cloke for their sin.

Mat 5:19 KJV

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach 
men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do 
and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

Mat 12:37 KJV

For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. 

Matthew Chapter 23 which excoriates the Scribes and Pharisees says that they will be more guilty by virtue of their position in the Synagogues.

However, if I read John 15:22 correctly it would seem to agree with Gill's assessment.

If there are any other sources to help me understan this enigma please let me know.

2 Answers 2


I think the answer you are looking for is in the verses around that one. Luke 12:41-48

Then Peter said: “Lord, are you telling this illustration just to us or also to everyone?” 42 And the Lord said: “Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time? 43 Happy is that slave if his master on coming finds him doing so! 44 I tell you truthfully, he will appoint him over all his belongings. 45 But if ever that slave should say in his heart, ‘My master delays coming,’ and starts to beat the male and female servants and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that slave will come on a day that he is not expecting him and at an hour that he does not know, and he will punish him with the greatest severity and assign him a part with the unfaithful ones. 47 Then that slave who understood the will of his master but did not get ready or do what he asked will be beaten with many strokes 48 But the one who did not understand and yet did things deserving of strokes will be beaten with few. Indeed, everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him, and the one who was put in charge of much will have more than usual demanded of him.

We see then from these scriptures that if we are in a leadership position spiritually, then we are responsible for taking care of tasks. If we do not do our appointed job then we are punished for it.

The degree of punishment is different depending on our understanding of the task. The one understanding and not doing correctly is punished severely. This is because they have the knowledge to know they are doing wrong and do it anyway.

For instance if upon seeing Jesus's miracles, a man still does not believe. The man has seen the proof and then has made an educated decision to not serve God. He is now fully accountable for his choice.

So today if we know God's law and the tasks left for us, we then are obligated to follow the law and do our part in the work.

  • I voted your question up even though I disagree with the punishment scenario I believe that it is more on the rewards side. in that Jesus said Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. and even Paul said in: 1st Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
    – BYE
    Dec 6, 2013 at 13:22
  • Oh yes there is reward. Sorry I wrote that half asleep. I only looked at the punishment side of it. The more responsibility the greater the reword. I agree with you on that Cecil.
    – Jeremy
    Dec 7, 2013 at 0:46

All those people consider themselves as servants of Jesus Christ, so all of them will be held to higher standards than those who knew little. The verses you gave all point in that direction. There is no enigma here.

"Moreover is is required in stewards that one be found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:2). Faithfulness to God's will in what one does is the main criteria, and that cannot be known until the end: "judge nothing before the time" (1 Cor. 4:5). Jesus taught in Matthew 24:45-51 that one could be faithful to the end and be rewarded, or one could change and become unfaithful and be punished.

The idea of punishing those who are more knowledgeable is also stated in Matthew 11:20-24, in which the Lord rebuked several cities which saw Christ's miracles and did not repent. They would receive a greater judgment than Sodom and Gomorrah, which would have repented had they saw the same miracles. Acting on what one knows is important to ALL people, not just highly visible servants.

James 1:22 warns us to be doers of the word and not just hearers only, otherwise we're deceiving ourselves, owning a security that may be shaky at best.

  • @ Steve Your answer puzzles me in that Paul was talking to the Corinthians about having more faith in one teacher over because of their popularity. In verse 4 he tells them that Jesus will be his judge in the Bema judgment.4:4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. And in Matthew 11:23 & 24 He is referring to Disbelief by the general populous, in spite of so great a display of his Deity.
    – BYE
    Oct 27, 2013 at 18:00

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