Failing in faithfulness

This coming weekend is the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we looked at what it means to be a “faithful and prudent steward.” (v. 42). But if the steward is neither faithful or prudent?

But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. (Lk 12:46-46)

Jesus rounds off this section with a warning of the certainty of punishment for those who fail to do their duty (v.47). Verse 45 turns to consider the punishment to come for those who are not “faithful and prudent” while the master is away. If the master’s absence tempts the servant to say in his heart, “My master is delayed in coming,” he will be punished severely. But we should recall that Luke has established repeatedly that Jesus knows what is in a person’s heart—2:35; 5:22; 7:39ff.; 9:47; 24:38; Acts 1:24).

As Culpepper [264] notes: “When the master comes, the faithless servant who doubted in his heart will be punished severely. The first punishment is graphic in its violence: He will be cut in two. Fitzmyer comments: ‘One should not fail to notice, however, how the punishment of the manager, if he abuses his authority, corresponds to the double life that he would be leading.’ The second punishment again employs theological language and speaks of God’s judgment on the faithless; he will be ‘put with the unfaithful’ (cf. ‘have no part [μέρος meros]’ in 11:36; John 13:8; 2 Cor 6:15).

Allen Culpepper Luke, vol. 9 in New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN.: Abington, 1995)

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