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. -- Luke 12:47-48

Does Christ speak of Christians literally being punished for the sins which they committed knowingly and those committed unknowingly in this verse, or this spoken of in a figurative sense, referring to a reprimanding, for example? Is there any indication in the text (besides, of course, that Christ is giving a parable) that this could be figurative? If it is literal, then how can one say that Christ died so that they would not be punished for their sins, but instead would have eternal life?

Thank you.

  • Not sure why you identify the servant in the passage as a Christian. – Luke Sawczak Oct 21 '18 at 14:00
  • @LukeSawczak If the servant is not a Christian, then Christ's parable, which begins in verse 42, makes no sense. – CMK Oct 21 '18 at 19:14
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    I disagree; I think Jesus' parables constantly tell us that the distinction is to be made in the future, at the master's return. Then people will be identified as goats or sheep, those who served him without knowing and who refused him without knowing, the sons who said yes but disobeyed and the sons who said no but obeyed, "assigned a place with the unbelievers" (v 46) or given a seat at the table, pulled up as weeds or stored as wheat. Until then we're all servants saying "Lord, Lord" but it's yet to be seen whether it's "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:32) or without obedience (Luke 6:46). – Luke Sawczak Oct 21 '18 at 21:04
  • Couldn't have said it better @Luke. – Sola Gratia Oct 22 '18 at 13:40
  • @LukeSawczak So, you're saying that the passage in Luke is describing a separation of unbelievers from believers, and that the unbelievers are those who will be whipped? – CMK Oct 23 '18 at 2:58

The question inherently confuses and conflates so many things to begin with.

Eternal life, for example, is not an adverb (i.e. you eternally have life; as opposed to eternal life: life that is undending for those in possession of it), and as such doesn't preclude punishment before being admitted thereto. "Indeed," says St. Paul,

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV).. we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Salvation is from eternal damnation, not from suffering. In fact, Scripture makes suffering a prerequisite to receiving eternal life:

Romans 8:17 (ESV) and if [we are] children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Luke 9:23 (ESV) And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Then you distinguished between a punishment and a reprimand for wrongdoing. That is to say, between the genus of punishment and a species of that genus, namely, reprimand—a form of punishment.

Then you implied a parable wherein punishment is describes cannot refer to real punishment, leaving one to wonder: what does real but figurative punishment to be warned against (the moral of the story .. of the parable) look like? Or how could Jesus refer to real punishment in a parable?

Yet we have countless explicit examples where Jesus steps out of the parable and explains in a rather lucid manner, e.g.:

Matthew 18:21:35 (ESV) Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Cf. Mt 5:25-26.

Notice again: the wicked servant was himself forgiven, but would not forgive others. Clearly the King is Jesus, per St. Paul, and "his servants" are His people. That is, this one is 'saved,' but he must be punished "until" all is aright again—until all accounts are 'settled.'

You can be forgiven your sins but still be punished:

Revelation 3:19 (ESV) Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

1 Corinthians 11:32 (ESV) But when we are judged [i.e. punished] by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

If God forgave you your sins but you didn't receive any bad consequences, you would not be changed as a person—you would be the same person inclined to the same evil. That is to say, your guilt as been forgiven, but you need changed if for no other reason than to no longer be the kind of person that does things which make you guilty.

There is the eternal punishment which every wilful sin merits, but there is also the temporal. For example:

2 Samuel 12: 13-14 (ESV) David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”

There is still a sense of justice in which God demands a lesser punishment than the eternal, even though the eternal has been forgiven (Hell for all eternity). Of which this is just one example.

So in summary: No, salvation does not preclude suffering, but rather entails it.

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  • I used eternal life as a synonym for salvation or forgiveness, as I assume that John 3:16 does; I should have made that clear. Concerning Romans 8:17, it is clearly speaking of suffering on Earth, and not punish necessarily, as made clear by verse 18. Luke 9:23 does not speak of punishment, either. Moreover, you say that a reprimand is a punishment, although it is not, seeing as punishment is the infliction of a penalty, or a compensation, while a reprimand is simply a condemnation. The shame of a reprimand might be seen as punishment, but the reprimand itself is not punishment necessarily. – CMK Oct 22 '18 at 12:48
  • I'll continue my response later. God bless. – CMK Oct 22 '18 at 13:08
  • Again you have conflated my argument from Scripture that eternal life cannot preclude suffering doesn't mean the Scriptures quoted mention suffering in the world to come. And eternal life is a synonym for ultimate forgiveness, but even if this was falsely assumed to be unconditionally applied indefinitely to all future sins (i.e., e.g., even if you don't repent of the sin committed in the future), and the word eternal was then taken adverbially, this still wouldn't imply not reprimand/correction/sanctification, all of which involve suffering. – Sola Gratia Oct 22 '18 at 13:46
  • Jesus hints at this relationship when He says repenting and being zealous is equivalent to what is being avoided by so doing (i.e. His discipline). But make no mistake: eve if you think eternal life means you will always have that life or cannot forfeit it, or have no absolute duty to produce fruit, good works, must avoid evil, not live according to the flesh, must forgive others etc., this still wouldn't yield the notion that because the eternal debt for sin has been paid, you are now free from all consequences. Whereas I showed you King David's example. – Sola Gratia Oct 22 '18 at 13:50
  • Jesus' 'dont sin or something worse will happen to you' also does away with this interpretation of forgiveness or eternal life as precluding any kind of punishment. – Sola Gratia Oct 22 '18 at 13:50

The section of Luke 12:41-48 starts with Jesus being asked whether this parable was intended for His followers alone or for everyone? He replies in an indirect way describing the participants of focus as those attending to His household (therapeia), providing them sustenance in the seasonal cycles (kairos) (2Tim.4:2). The Lords coming can have two applications; an immediate judgement that can occur at any time, or at His second coming (1Pet. 4:17). Those in the first resurrection are given rewards for their overcoming, not judgements for their failings, so this parable cannot refer to the resurrection (Rev. 20:4,5). He adresses 3 different groups of the called in this age with the responsibility to preach His gospel. The first one, thinking the Lord delays His personal judgement, instead turns to carnal pursuits and abuses the brethren making merchandise of them (2 Pet.2:3). He loses his understanding and responsibilities and becomes as one who does not know God (1 Pet.5:2). The second becomes lazy and negligent not maintaining his relationship with God (Rev.3:17). It takes extreme trial for him to be brought to his senses. The third, who acted honorably according to what he understood, but lacked depth in his understanding of Gods plan, experiences basic trials. This parable is not about being punished after ones death at the resurrection.

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