The Real Meaning “To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required”


This particular phrase is quite popular with daily usage and references. Most people take it to mean that whoever has a lot of power or capacity has a great responsibility, (thank you Spiderman). But just like every word written in Scripture, the meaning goes beyond the surface. Let’s put our focus to the roots and dig out the depths of this phrase. 

The phrase ‘to whom much is given, much is required’  is found in Luke 12:48. The verse says, 

“But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”

So what does this actually mean, who said it and how does it relate to us? To get the Luke 12:48 meaning, we must also read it in context.

What Is The Context of Luke 12:48?

Luke 12 opens up with Jesus addressing his apostles along with a great crowd. He talks about a lot of things including staying ready for the return of the master, a man in charge of a group of people and this particular situation relates to different contexts in our daily lives. 

He mentions that no servant knows exactly when his master is coming back, but they must always be on standby, waiting and ever ready. In verse 42 He asks, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?” He says that the person will be blessed when the master comes and sees them doing exactly what he assigned them to do. 

In contrast, He paints a picture of another manager who, even though he knew his master’s will, decides to be negligent and oppressive. Jesus says that when the master comes, he will receive what is due to him.

In verse 48, Jesus also cancels ignorance as an excuse, and in the passage, you see that the ignorant one also receives a punishment even though it is not as grave as the outrightly irresponsible manager. He ends by saying that to whom much is given, much will be expected.

What Does ‘To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required’ Mean?

Jesus used this parable to help people understand how God wants us to live. God created each of us with unique talents and spiritual gifts. In a lifetime, some people use theirs, others leave theirs to lay undiscovered and unused till death.

Apart from spiritual gifts, every single thing we have is a gift from God. Our finances, our relationships, food, our clothes, shelter, our time and everything else we can think of. The Bible says in John 3:27 that no man has anything except it is given from above.

God in His generosity, has given us these gifts and wants us not to use them selfishly, but be faithful in stewarding them. 1 Peter 4:10 is very clear about what we should use these gifts for. It says,

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms”

We have been given these gifts to serve God by serving people. Those servants who are faithful in stewarding what they have been given are rewarded with more gifts to be a manager of. So it’s not a matter of how much you have been given, but how faithful you are with what you have been given. When you are faithful in little, God trusts you with more. So if you want more of anything from God, faithfully serve others with what you have and He’ll entrust more to your hands.

Simply put, the ‘to whom much is given, much is required’ meaning is that we who have been generously given gifts by God are also required to generously use these gifts for others and to advance the Kingdom of God on earth. As the Bible puts it in Matthew 10:8, freely we have received these things, so we must freely give them too.

To Whom Much is Given Much is Required Bible Verses

1.This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.

2.Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

 ‘In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.’

‘So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.’

‘In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.’

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey,(B) who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability.(C) Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.(D) 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.(E) Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.(F) Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.(G) 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.(A) 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’

5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

6 “‘Nine hundred gallons[a] of olive oil,’ he replied.

“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’

7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’

“‘A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,’ he replied.

“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’

8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world(B) are more shrewd(C) in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.(D) 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth(E) to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.(F)

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much,(G) and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth,(H) who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

A Prayer For Stewardship

Gracious God, in these times of anguish and distress, we thank you for the great power of your compassionate love. We thank you as well for entrusting us with a share in your work to bind people together as a community of faith and to build us into Christ’s body, the church.
Lord, empower us by your Spirit to be good stewards of our time, talent, and treasure so we may draw men to your Kingdom, the only dwelling that really matters. Help us to live with the consciousness that we have been generously blessed and we also have to generously bless others. Help us to be faithful with all we have been given so that in the end all the glory will be returned back to you.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Final Thoughts

There’s room for a lot more in God, but it is accessed by faithfulness. To whom much is given, much is expected. Never let whatever you can do be buried. If yours is to give, give out cheerfully. If you have services you can render to people, also render them cheerfully. As Colossians 3: 23 says, we must do these things with all our hearts because we do them for God and not really because of men.

Some people may also claim that they don’t have any gifts, but the truth is that God never created anyone empty. Seek to discover your gift and purpose and with the help of the Holy Spirit, be a faithful steward over them all. We will all stand before God to give an account of it all one day.