38 Therefore, watch and remain ready. Jesus may come at any time (see Mark 13:35-37 and comment).
39-40 See Matthew 24:43-44 and comment.
41 Peter asked Jesus if He was telling this parable only for the disciples or for unbelievers also.
Jesus didn’t answer Peter’s question directly. Instead, He told a second parable (verses 42-46). But the next parable was also about servants and their master. Therefore, it was about disciples, especially those who were to be leaders in the church. This, then, served as the answer to Peter’s question: The first parable about watchfulness (the one Peter asked about) was for believers—disciples—not for unbelievers.
42-46 See Matthew 24:45-51 and comment.
47-48 In these verses Jesus teaches an important spiritual truth: those who sin in ignorance will receive a small punishment, but those who commit the same sin knowingly will receive a great punishment. In fact, according to the Old Testament law, there was no forgiveness for sins committed knowingly (Numbers 15:27-31).
From this we can understand that in hell there are different degrees of punishment. Those who have heard the Gospel of Christ but have deliberately rejected it will receive the greater punishment (see verse 49 and comment). Those who have never heard the Gospel will receive a lesser punishment.27
In the same way, there will be different rewards in heaven. Those who have served Christ well and faithfully will receive a greater reward. Those who have not used Christ’s gifts well and faithfully will receive a lesser reward (see Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
Then Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded”(verse 48). God will judge and reward each of us according to what spiritual knowledge and gifts we have been given. In the parable of the talents, one man was given five talents; therefore, he was expected to earn five talents more (Matthew 25:19-21). But the man to whom only two talents had been given was only expected to earn two talents more (Matthew 25:2223). Notice that both these men received the same reward. They received the same reward because according to the talents each had been given they each had done the same thing—they each had doubled their talents.
In the parable of the ten minas, Jesus taught this same truth, but in a different way (see Luke 19:11-26). In the parable of the minas, the gifts were the same. All the men received one mina. But each man then used his mina differently; some used it better than others. One made ten minas more (Luke 19:16). Another made five minas more (Luke 19:18). These men then received different rewards (Luke 19:17,19). All of the men had received much, but not all gave back much. Those who did not give back much received a lesser reward.
Friends, let us not misuse our gifts. Let us not waste what God has given us. He has given us spiritual gifts and He has given us earthly gifts—health, education, wealth. Let us take care that we use all these gifts in His service to the fullest extent we can.
From these verses there is another thing we can learn. Those who are Christians cannot live in the manner of non-Christians; they must live better lives. Those who have been given the Holy Spirit cannot live like those who do not have the Holy Spirit; they must live better, that is, more holy lives. Those who have been given much of the Spirit must lead better lives than those who have been given but little of the Spirit. Those who are mature Christians must live better lives than those who are new, immature Christians. That which is a small sin for a new Christian may be a big sin for an older Christian. Those who have been given responsibility will be judged with greater severity than those who have not (see James 3:1). 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.
(Matthew 5:23-26; 10:34-36; 16:1-4; Mark 8:11-13)
49 I have come to bring fire on the earth. Jesus’ coming divides people into two groups: those who reject Him and those who accept Him. For those who reject Him, the fire is the fire of judgment. It is, in a sense, the fire of hell. But for those who accept Christ, the fire is the fire of purification, of strengthening (see 1 Peter 1:6-7). It is the fire of the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8 and comment).
Christ said, “How I wish it were already kindled.” He wished that His Gospel would spread like “fire.” He wished His work of salvation would spread quickly all over the world. When a fire is kindled, it spreads by itself. The fire had to be kindled before Christ died; otherwise, it might go out. The fire was soon kindled in the hearts of His disciples, and it has been burning in the hearts of each generation of disciples ever since.
50 Christhada baptism to undergo. Here “baptism” means suffering and death (see Mark 10:38 and comment). Before the fire of the Holy Spirit could come, Christ first had to suffer and die. He longed that this “baptism” might be finished quickly.
51-53 See Matthew 10:34-36 and comment.
54-56 See Mark 8:11-13 and comment.
57-59 See Matthew 5:23-26 and comment.