Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Discipleship #13: Crowns or Stripes?


In Luke 12:35-48 and again in Matthew 24:45-51 Jesus teaches one of the most sobering truths in all the Bible dealing with rewards and loss of rewards when He returns for His own.  The parable Jesus relates here is certainly about the return of Christ.   It is also about rewards for faithful servants and punishment for unfaithful servants.  I doubt there is any argument there. 

One major problem in understanding this parable is in the mistranslation of the Greek word analuo  in Luke 12:36 which means depart  by using the preposition  from.   The Greek word for from is apo, a preposition which is widely used throughout the New Testament.   This Greek word analuo is only used twice in the New Testament; here in Luke 12:36 and also in Philippians 1:23  where is speaks of our death as our departure to be with Christ.  

So what I believe Jesus is saying here in Luke 12:35-36 is  “Let your loins be girded about (with Truth)  and your lights burning and you  yourselves like those who wait for their Lord when He departs from Heaven to meet His Bride for the wedding feast. When He comes and knocks, be ready to meet Him and  open to Him immediately.”  That can be summarized in the simple warning,  “Be ready for His return!” 


1. I Thessalonians 4:16 declares that the dead in Christ will rise first, then we Christians  who are alive when He comes  will join them to meet the Lord in the air.  

2. Hebrews 9:28 assures us that those who look for Him will be caught up. The Greek word for look is apehdektomai.  This word translated look is stronger than the Greek  word optomai  which is the common word for look, such as look at the book.  The word used here is the look of waiting with anticipation.  This is the look you see in an airport as family members scrutinize the crowd for their loved one.  It’s the look of a bridegroom as he stands at the front of the church eagerly watching for his bride to appear.  

3. In II Timothy 4:8  we read that He is coming back for those who  love His appearing 

4. In our text in Luke 12:43 we also learn He is coming for His faithful servants. In this passage it is obvious that this parable is about the secret, imminent return of Christ for His own, commonly known as The Rapture. It is also about the rewarding of faithful servants and the chastising of unfaithful servants. These servants are certainly Christians and not unsaved people.  

Let’s consider these three themes: 

1 The Rapture 

2. The rewarding of faithful servants  


3.  The chastisement of unfaithful servants. 


Luke 12:35-40  is about the rapture: the secret bodily resurrection and catching away to Heaven  of both deceased and living saints in their glorified bodies, bodies that are just like the resurrected body of Jesus described in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21, Acts 1 and I Corinthians 15:1-8.  The two major passages on this topic are found in I Corinthians 15:50-58   and I Thessalonians 4:13-18   In these and other passages note the following truths concerning the Rapture. 

1. It is secret and imminent.  Luke 12:40  Matthew 24:36-44, 50 Acts 1:7  Repeatedly we are told that no man knows the day nor the hour of this event.  For 2000 years Christians have expected His return at any moment.  Even Paul expected Jesus to return in his lifetime as is seen in Thessalonians 4:17 

2. It is a comforting truth.  I Thessalonians 4:18 

3.  it is a purifying hope. I John 3:1-3 

4. Jesus comes unexpectedly as a thief in the night. Luke 12:39,46  I Thessalonians 5:2  Revelation 3:3  16:15 

5. At the rapture, we, the Bride of Christ, meet our Heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, and delight in the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.  We are forever with our Lord. 

6. The Day of the Lord, spoken of in II Peter 3:10 is 1007 years long. Note the description in that verse.  It begins with the rapture and it ends at the conclusion of the Millennial reign of Christ when He destroys this earth as we know it now and remakes it into a new earth and new heavens totally free of all contamination of sin.  Satan and all those who rejected Christ are banished to the eternal  Lake of Fire. 


Whereas the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15 has to do with  Christ rejectors being condemned  to the Lake of Fire,  the Bema Judgment is only for Christians and it has to do with rewards for faithful service and the loss of rewards for unfaithfulness.  This Bema Judgment is spoken of in I Corinthians 3:9-15  II Corinthians 5:9-10  Revelations 22:12 and in Luke 12:42-44.  It is also referred to in  I John 2:28 and in II John 8.  


At the Bema Judgment Christians will be reward for faithful service  and  the fire of His judgment will burn up wasted, useless activity that failed to glorify God.  Our motives for serving Christ will also be judged by the eyes of the One who sees our hearts.  Psalm 7:9  Proverbs 17:3  Jeremiah 11:20  I Thessalonians 2:4.  


In Romans 14:4, 10-13 we are warned not to try playing God by attempting to judge the measure and value of another’s ministry; though in Romans 16:17-18 we are commanded  to recognize, expose and separate from false doctrine.


As a loving father chastens his disobedient children,  so our loving Heavenly Father chastens His stubborn, rebellious, disobedient children.  See Hebrews 12:5-13 for a full treatment of this subject.  

I encourage you to stop at this point and read for yourself Luke 12:45-48 and try to determine what Jesus means by this.  Here are my thoughts  on the passage. First this passage describes the fate of unfaithful believers; not unbelievers.  These people are divided from faithful Christians and are given their portion with unbelievers. See verse 46.  This passage also  speaks of degrees of pain inflicted by severe punishment.  Read the following passages that teach a loss of rewards for some Christians. Revelation 3:11  II John 8  I Corinthians 9:24-27 

Though Christians cannot lose their salvation; yet this and other passages of Scripture teach that unfaithful Christians will be chastened, not only in this life, but at the time of the Rapture.  It is evident to me that unfaithful Christians will miss the rapture and will be chastised for their unfaithfulness by finding themselves plunged into the  Tribulation. Let me give you Scriptural reasons for my position. 


There are two groups spoken of in Revelation 7  The first group are the 144,000 Jews, including 12,000  from each of the Tribes of Israel.  This group is found in Revelation 7:1-8 and also chapter 14.  These faithful Jews are a firstfruits of many others who will come to Christ during the Tribulation. 

The second group referred to in  7:9-17 is a vast multitude from the whole world.  They are seen in verse 9-10 worshipping Christ, the Lamb of God. Angels join the worship as they observe these saints of God.   In verse 13 the question is asked, “Who are these purified saints and where did they come from?” 

The answer is that they have come out of great tribulation and are cleansed and purified in the blood of Christ, the Lamb.  Their suffering is over and their tears are wiped away. I believe these are the wicked servants of Luke 12:45-48 who had their portion with unbelievers in the Tribulation and who experienced the pain of God’s chastening.

These are those who were martyred for Christ during the Tribulation.  These are the Christians whose service was burned up and they were saved by faith in the blood of the Lamb but were saved, so as by fire as it taught in I Corinthians 3:15.  They went through the fire of martyrdom.  

Note Revelation 6:9-11. Here you see souls in Heaven under the altar crying out to God for vengeance.   These are souls martyred for their stand and service for God.  I  believe these could be the unfaithful Christians of Luke 12:46 who are separated from the Christians who were caught away in the rapture.  The Tribulation suffering were the stripes spoken of in that Luke 12 passage. 

Because these unfaithful Christian had truly been born again through faith in Christ, their salvation was guaranteed by the promises of God and even tribulation itself could not separate them from the love of Christ.  See Romans 8:28-30  with special attention to verse 35. 


Rev. 7:17 assures us that these martyred saints of the Tribulation will have their tears wiped away when they arrive in Heaven.  It seem obvious then that those who were raptured also had their tears wiped away at the moment of the rapture. Revelation 21:1-2 assures us that at the end of the Millennium when we enter the new heaven and new earth,  all tears will be wiped away. 


 Some may argue that the Bema Judgment has to do with our service for Christ and not with our spiritual condition.  However, we must understand that the value of our service is determined by our spiritual condition before God.  A carnal, selfish Christian’s service is of no value to God. It is likened to wood, hay and stubble which will be burned up when  we stand before God at the Bema Judgment.  A spiritually-minded Christian is going to faithfully serve God. 

Some may argue that because I Thessalonians 4:16 declares that all the dead in Christ will be raptured, that will be the case, regardless of their spirituality or service.  That passage is true, as is all the Word of God.  Those who are truly “in Christ” will be caught up in the rapture.  The question is, who is truly in Christ? 

The answer is found in II Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation.  Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are becoming new.”  If that does not describe you, why would you think you will be among the raptured saints? God knows those who are truly His.  If you are truly born again and miss the rapture, I assure you, based on the promises of Romans 8:28-39 that you will make it to Heaven and that even The Great Tribulation and martyrdom cannot separate you from Christ. 

Someone may ask, what about the carnal, selfish Christians of the past, will they be raptured?  That’s none of our business.  We can leave the answer with God.  Deuteronomy 29:29 teaches us “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”   Too many Christians are trying to pry into God’s secrets instead of doing what they know the Bible clearly tells them to do. 


Since faithful Christians will be caught up to Heaven in the rapture and since unfaithful Christians may face martyrdom during the Tribulation, we are all challenged in Luke 12:35-40 to be constantly clothed in the armour of God described in Ephesians 6:10-17.  We are also challenged to let the light of our testimony shine brightly in this sin-darkened world. Finally, we are challenged to watch and wait for the imminent return of Christ for His own. 

Please turn to II John 8 and read as I paraphrase it for you. “Watch out how you live your life as a Christian. We can’t lose our salvation, but we can lose rewards.  Don’t lose the gains you have made. Live for Him to the very end so that you receive a full reward!”


August 27, 2006 - Posted by | Discipleship

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