Luke 12:52

ESV For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three.
NIV From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.
NASB for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.
CSB From now on, five in one household will be divided: three against two, and two against three.
NLT From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against — or two in favor and three against.
KJV For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.

What does Luke 12:52 mean?

Jesus is expressing the dichotomy of the coming of the kingdom of God. It's an exceptionally good thing! During the millennial kingdom, He will reign over Jerusalem and dozens of promises God made to Israel will come true. The disciples will judge over Israel, and everyone who lost their lives because of their faithfulness to Jesus will live in peace (Matthew 19:28; Revelation 21:4–5).

But before the millennial kingdom Jesus will bring judgment. He will separate the sheep from the goats, meaning the believers from the unbelievers (Matthew 25:32–33). Some of those divisions will be within families. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters—in both the ancient and modern world, not every member of every family follows Jesus. The fulfillment of God's kingdom means eternal separation from people we love on earth (Luke 12:53).

Jesus has been telling His followers that we need to be like servants who don't know when our master is returning. We need to watch for His arrival, but also continue to faithfully do our work both for Him and others (Luke 12:35–48). It is not the good people who will be saved but those who call on Christ and repent. And it is Jesus' followers who must preach the gospel so they know Christ and know to call on Him (Luke 13:1–5; Romans 10:13–17).

This is the reason for the delay of Jesus' return (Luke 12:40). The disciples are anxious for their positions of honor but, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Instead of focusing on their own rewards, the disciples should be like the vinedresser, asking the owner of the fig tree for one more year so that others have a chance of eternal life (Luke 13:6–9).
What is the Gospel?
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