Luke 12:42-48 (NIV) seems to support different degrees of punishment:

42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.

47 “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. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

However, Luke 13:1-5 (NIV) seems to say otherwise:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Are all sinners equally guilty and deserving of the same punishment, or are there different degrees of guilt that justify proportional punishments on a case-by-case basis?

1 Answer 1


The two passages in Luke 12 vs Luke 13 are discussing two separate matters and thus, should not be confused.

In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus is discussing the common myth (at the time) that what people suffered in this life was a consequence of their moral standing with God. Jesus was at pains to debunk this idea on other occasions as well such as Luke 9:1-3 -

Now as Jesus was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth, and His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in him.

Thus, in Luke 13:1-5, Jesus is saying that the Galileans and the 18 on whom the tower fell, not not suffer these things because they were especially sinful. The entire book of Job takes up this theme.

By complete contrast, Luke 12:42-48 is discussing final punishment of the wicked as is clear from his discussion in the previous few verses of Jesus' servants being ready for the second coming of the Master. James takes up this theme as well in James 3:1 -

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

That is, those who represent Jesus and His teaching to other are judged by a higher standard. Jesus spells this out in Luke 12:42-48 where wicked teachers will be judged more strictly that the wicked who were not teachers - the reason is made clear - the teachers were better informed and should have known better.

The parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-28) appears to teach the same truth - the one who had been given much - much was required. In this case, the one given least (one talent), the least was required but even he failed to do anything. Again, this parable is not discussing our daily lives so much as our final destiny based on what we do with the opportunities we are given.

Again, Jesus discusses this matter in Matt 7:21-23 where He says:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’

Thus, the teachers will be judged most severely.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.