If Jesus is the Master, it seems they would all represent believers. Unbelievers would not be serving Jesus. Only the fourth servant does not know the Master's will. Perhaps a believer that has not studied the Bible. What do you think?
Luke 12:40 - 48
ESV - 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 41 Peter said, "Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?
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The first servant in verse 42 is the believer. The other servants are unbelievers. The servant in verse 45 is wicked and cruel. The third servant is still an unbeliever, but knows God's will and ignores it. The last servant is an unbeliever, just ignorant of what God wants from us (ignorance is no excuse for unbelief). Basically, this parable is teaching that there will be varying degrees of punishment in hell. It's still all bad but the worst of the worst will be reserved for those like the servant in verse 45. Matt 10:13-15, 11:22, 24; Mark 6:11, Heb 10:29 all point to levels of punishment in hell for the unbeliever.
The first 3 servants are typically understood to represent believers. Each “knows the master’s will,” but they respond differently. Therefore, they are judged differently. This can be cross-referenced to Jesus’ own words in (Matthew 16:27) which affirmed the varying degrees of rewards within the kingdom of heaven. The first knows the master’s will and follows it. This servant is set over all of the masters possessions. This represents a believer who follows the commandments of God and receives a high place in the heaven. The second knows the master’s will and deliberately chooses wickedness instead, beating and abusing others. This is a “believer” in the sense that they know who the master is and they know the master’s will. Here, reference the James 2:19 “you believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” So you can know who God is and believe that God is truly God, yet still choose wickedness. For this servant the master will “cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.” The wicked servant is condemned to hell. The third servant is still a believer! He knows the master and knows the master’s will; however, he doesn’t live up to it. He does not follow the will as good as he should. This servant is beaten heavily. But it’s important to note, he is not cast into the realm of the unbelievers like the wicked servant is. Most Christians throughout the ages have concluded that this servant is punished but still remains in the master’s house—a repentance through punishment. The last servant is the only one who represents an unbeliever. He does not know the will of the master, and so he “does things deserving punishment.” But interestingly, he is given few, light blows. This is a contrast with the last servant who knew the will of the master and received heavy blows. This is understood to mean that people who never heard the will of God (like people living in remote villages who never heard the Gospel) will be punished lightly. Again, it’s important to note that this servant is not thrown out of the house like the wicked servant. He still remains within the house of the master. I hope this helps! I don’t think this passage is sad—I actually find it very hopeful. Also it fits perfectly with the other scriptures that talk about the varying degrees of reward in heaven, as well as the finality of damnation. Last point, this whole parable should be read in light of the scripture “nothing unclean shall enter [heaven.]” Repentance through punishment is sometimes necessary.
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