Luke 12:47

ESV And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.
NIV The servant who knows the master's will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.
NASB And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accordance with his will, will receive many blows,
CSB And that servant who knew his master's will and didn't prepare himself or do it will be severely beaten.
NLT And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.
KJV 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.

What does Luke 12:47 mean?

Peter needs to be careful what he wishes for. Jesus wants His followers always to maintain readiness. He compares them to servants of a man who has gone to a wedding and does not know when he will return. Instead of sleeping, the servants keep the lamps lit and remain dressed for service. When the man returns and finds his servants prepared, he is pleased (Luke 12:35–40).

Peter seems irritated to be compared to a servant and asks Jesus if the parable was meant for the disciples or also for the thousands who surround them (Luke 12:1, 41). Jesus responds with a modification to His story, explaining that faithful servants will be put in charge of the house as well as the other servants. But with increased responsibility comes strict accountability. Lead servants will be responsible for feeding the others. They should not take advantage of the master's absence by gorging on food and wine and beating the others. The servant who do so will be punished; perhaps the master will "cut him to pieces and put him with the unfaithful," or maybe the servant will "receive a severe beating" (Luke 12:42–46). Metaphorically, Jesus is telling Peter, and all church leaders, their responsibility is to teach believers well and not indulge in spiritual abuse.

Even more so, they will be punished because they know what Jesus expects of them and do not do it. Jesus touches on truths found in Ezekiel's commissioning as a prophet. God said:
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul." (Ezekiel 3:17–19)
Spiritual leaders, as teachers, will be held to a higher standard (James 3:1). But what is the metaphorical punishment? For unbelieving church leaders, it appears they will suffer additional torment in hell (Luke 10:14; Revelation 20:11–15).

Even believing church leaders can indulge in spiritual abuse, however, and they will not go to hell. In this life, Jesus does discipline those He loves (Hebrews 12:5–6) and allows people to suffer consequences of their sins to varying degrees. Ultimately, however, Jesus took the punishment on the cross. It sounds like a travesty of justice to think Jesus, the loving Shepherd and King who never sinned, took the pain earned by abusive pastors and teachers. We must remember that Jesus took the punishment for all sin. Every Christian will escape their deserved torment because Jesus already carried it.
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