And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with double 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: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. Luke 12:47, 48
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Rom. 8:1
The reader who sent in this intriguing question only mentioned vs. 47 of Luke 12. The question is: How do you interpret Luke 12:47 in the light of Romans 8:1?
I think that the reader is implying another question, namely: How can a servant of God for whom there is no condemnation nevertheless be beaten with double stripes?
It is probably best to look at each passage separately and then to put the two passages together so that they harmonize.
It is clear, first of all, that Rom. 8:1 is speaking of perfect justification for the elect. That is, God cannot condemn His elect, for no guilt attaches to their person. And, as Paul has explained in previous chapters, no guilt attaches to their person because their guilt has been imputed to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who paid the debt of their guilt by His perfect sacrifice on the cross. There is no condemnation at all for anyone for whom Christ died. There is only blessing.
Luke 12, however, is speaking of another matter. The Lord, in this passage, is really speaking about our calling to live in constant expectation of His return: "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not" (vs. 40). We are not to live in the expectation of the establishment of a kingdom of Christ here in the world; we are to look for His return.
That kind of expectation requires faithful labor on our part as faithful and wise stewards (vs. 42). That is, we are to recognize that we are stewards in this earthly creation because it belongs to our Christ and He will redeem it as well when He comes again. For these faithful stewards Christ has a wonderful reward (vs. 44).
But not all servants in Christ's house are faithful. The Lord has in mind in this parable the wicked Jews Who claimed to be God's servants, but who rejected Christ and ultimately crucified Him. But, because the parable has significance for the whole church, these unfaithful servants are those who, while claiming to be Christ's servants and claiming to be members of Christ's church are, in fact, sinful. Their sin lies in their refusal to be faithful stewards in this creation; and, as unfaithful stewards, they do not live in the expectation of their Lord's coming. Anyone will know that the church is full of such people today.
The Jews of Jesus' day and the outwardly professing Christians surely know the Lord's will. They know they must live in expectation of Christ's coming. But they do not obey their Lord. And that disobedience becomes manifest especially in this that they refuse to be faithful stewards in Christ's house.
These Jews and hypocrites within the church shall be beaten with double stripes. Here it is necessary to mention why I have quoted also vs. 48. There are many in the world who lived outside Jewry in Jesus' day, and many in our day who live outside the sphere of the preaching of the gospel. They do not know the Lord's will. They know, of course, in general that they must serve God (Rom. 1:18ff.), but they do not have the Scriptures and, therefore, do not know that the Lord is coming back and that they must be stewards in His house.
Their judgment and condemnation shall not be as great as that of the wicked Jews who know the Lord's will. The principle is that the closer one stands to the light of the gospel, the greater is his responsibility. And the greater his responsibility, the more severe his punishment for being unfaithful. It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for Bethsaida and Chorazin. Tyre and Sidon shall rise upon in judgment against Capernaum, and Nineveh shall condemn the generation which knew Jesus (Mt. 11:21-24).
There is an urgent warning here for us. Unto whom much is given, of him shall be much required. Who has received as much as we have? I refer not merely to material possessions of which we have an abundance, but I mean especially the revelation of God's truth, the knowledge of the Scriptures, a place in the church of Christ, sound books to read and commentaries to study, a heritage of our fathers which is priceless. These and more. Of us shall much be required. Are we faithful and wise stewards?
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 5
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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