The Faithful Servant


The faithful servant is a parable that reminds us to be prepared for the coming Day of Judgment.  It was the wise man Solomon who wrote of a day in which “God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil”  (Ecc. 12.13).  The parable of the faithful servant helps us to understand the urgency of being ready for that day.

Every one of us is going to take a final exam.  It is not a quiz in which we will be expected to answer questions related to Bible trivia.  It is not a quiz where we will have to list the names of the books of the Bible in order.  It is a final exam in that our lives are going to be examined and measured up to scripture to determine where our eternal home is going to be.  In fact, Jesus said, “the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day”  (John 12.48).

This final exam will be conducted by God through Jesus Christ.  Paul said to the people of Athens in Acts 17.31, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

This final exam will cover three categories:

  1. Our speech will be examined.
  2. Our actions will be examined.
  3. Our thoughts will be examined.

There will be no secrets.  There will be no hiding from God the things that we have thought, said, or did because God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. 

It will be an exam that is not going to be graded based on A, B, C, D, or F.  It is a simple pass or fail.  God has already given us everything we need to know to pass.  Everything that we need to know in reference to how we are to talk, how we are to act, and how we are to think is contained in the Bible.  In fact, Peter wrote that God has given to us “all things that pertain to life and godliness”  (2 Pet. 1.3).

Most of us would not assume to graduate out of high school or college without needed to study and be prepared for the final exam.  No one would enter a classroom having never prepared themselves or studied the material and still expect to pass.  

In the same way, we cannot expect to pass the final exam in the final Day of Judgment unless we prepare ourselves and study the material.  With heaven and hell in the balance, are you prepared?  Are you ready?  If you were to die this day, and you no longer have an opportunity to study and prepare, how will you do standing before God on that final Day of judgment?

Think about those questions as you read the parable of the faithful servant.

Matthew 24.45-51:  “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.  Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.  But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jesus begins by asking a question:  “Who then is a faithful and wise servant?”  He answers that question by giving this parable about the servant who has charge over his master’s house.  



The Settting of the Parable of the Faithful Servant

Why did Jesus feel compelled to teach this parable?  What caused Jesus to feel the need to teach this lesson?  To understand the parable of the faithful servant, you need to know the context in which Jesus taught this parable. 

If you back up to the beginning of the chapter and follow look at the context, you will find Jesus warning the disciples about the coming destruction of Jerusalem.  He then provides signs that would indicate that the destruction was near.

Matthew 24.1,2:  “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.  And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’”

In these verses we read about this prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem.  He points to the temple and the buildings that surround the temple and says that these building will be thrown down.

Matthew 24.3:  “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’”

This no doubt would be disturbing news to the disciples, so they came to Him privately and they asked three questions.

  1. What would be the signs indicating the destruction of Jerusalem?
  2. When would the destruction of Jerusalem take place? 
  3. When would be the end of the age? 

Jesus answers those questions by telling them what to look for that would indicate the coming destruction of Jerusalem.

  • There were going to be false-Christ’s.  (Matt. 24,4,5)
  • There were going to be wars and rumors of wars.  (Matt. 24.6)
  • There were going to be famine, pestilence, earthquakes, and tribulations.  (Matt. 24.7-10)
  • There were going to be false prophets.  (Matt. 24.11-13)
  • The gospel would be preached to the world.  (Matt. 24.14)
  • There would be the “abomination of desolation” in the temple.  (Matt. 24.15)

Because of the local nature of the event as it would take place when the Roman army invaded and occupied Jerusalem, Jesus warns that when these warning signs appear, the inhabitants of Jerusalem need to “flee to the mountains”  (Matt. 24.16-22).

As we follow the flow of the text, Jesus then tells them when this destruction of Jerusalem was going to take place.

Matthew 24.34:  “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”

Don’t miss what Jesus just said.  This was not some event that would happen in the distant future.  Jesus told His disciples that this was going to take place within their lifetime.  There were some who would still be alive when the Romans invade and destroy Jerusalem.

After He answers their first two questions, He then answers their third question in relation to the end of time.

Matthew 24.36:  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

Follow what Jesus is saying.

  • To answer their question concerning “the signs of Your coming,” Jesus gives a list of those signs in verses 4-32.
  • To answer the second question concerning “when will these things be,” Jesus tells them in verse 34 that it will happen in their lifetime. 
  • To answer the third question concerning “the end of the age,” Jesus tells them in verse 35 that only the Father knows what that day will be.

He describes this final Day of Judgment as a day and hour that no one knows, not the angels, not even Jesus Himself knows, but only the Father who is in heaven.   He then describes it as a day that is sudden and unexpected.  Just as the thief breaks into your house at a time when you do not expect it, just as the flood waters came upon the world at a time when they did not expect it, so will this final day of judgment, the end of the age be.  (Matt. 24.37-44).

The final Day of Judgment, the end of the earthly age is coming.  We don’t know when it’s going to be, but we know it is going to be sudden and unexpected.  It is in this setting that Jesus then teaches this parable of the faithful servant.   

The Point of the Parable of the Faithful Servant

Every parable has a point to make.  What is the point of this parable in which Jesus speaks of the faithful servant?  Often what we find in parables is that the main point is expressed at the beginning and at the end of the parable.  Jesus will state the principle and then He will illustrate the principle with a parable.  He will then, at the end of the parable, express it again in a line that essentially says, “The moral of the story is…”

In the parable of the faithful servant, we find the point of the parable mentioned three different times.

  1. Matthew 24.42:  “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming”
  2. Matthew 24.44:  “Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of man is coming at an hour that you do not expect”
  3. Matthew 25.13:  In this passage we find this statement at the end of a second parable that is spoken right after the parable of the faithful servant.  It is a parable that teaches the same message.  The second parable complements the first one.  At the end of these two complementary parables which teach the same message Jesus says, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

The point that Jesus makes in this parable is that we need to watch and be ready.  We don't know when the Day of Judgment is going to come.  It could be morning, noon, or night.  There is not a single sign that will indicate that His arrival is soon.  It will be sudden.  It will be unexpected.


The Story of the Parable of the Faithful Servant

Jesus tells the story of the faithful servant.  He identifies this faithful servant in two ways.  First, He shows who the faithful servant is by virtue of his actions.  Then He shows who is not a faithful servant by virtue of his actions.


The Faithful Servant

Who is the faithful and wise servant?  He is the one whom the master made to be ruler of his house and to give them food in due season. 

Matthew 24.45:  “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?”

Here is this master who takes his servant and puts him in charge of the his house and charges him with feeding the family at the appropriate times.  Now watch very carefully how Jesus describes this faithful and wise servant.

Matthew 24.46:  “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.”

First of all notice that the master had been away and then later comes back.  So the servant had been left in charge of the house when his master was away.

Second, notice that when the master comes back he finds his servant doing something, but doing what?  He is doing what his master left him to do.  According to verse 45, he was to take care of the master’s house and feed his family at the appropriate times.

In essence, what Jesus is saying is that the faithful servant is the one who is doing exactly what he was commanded to do while the master was away.  And he continues to do it until the master returns.  That’s the faithful servant.

To make application to us, while Christ is away, sitting at the right hand of God, we are faithful servants of Christ if we are doing what Christ said to do, the way Christ said to do it, and we are continuing to do it until He returns


The Unfaithful Servant

Who is the unfaithful servant, or the evil servant? 

Matthew 24.48,49:  “But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,'  and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,”

The unfaithful or evil servant is the one who realizes that the master is not coming back quickly, and so he starts taking advantage of what was put in his charge.  He doesn’t do what the master commanded.  He doesn’t do it the way the master commanded.  And he continues not to do it while his master is away.

Matthew 24.50,51:  “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,  and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Because he was not watching and preparing himself for the master’s return, the master came back unexpectedly.  As a result, this evil servant was given the same punishment as the hypocrites.

That begs the question:  Are you faithful or are you unfaithful?  Maybe you have examined yourself and have found that you are not one of the faithful because you have not obeyed the gospel.  Perhaps you realize that you need to be baptized for the remission of your sins.

Maybe you are a Christian, but you have not been doing what the Master has commanded that you do.  You need to change.  Every one of us needs to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.


What does the Parable of the Faithful Servant Mean to Us?

As we think of this parable of the faithful servant, let’s consider three reasons why people today are unprepared for the final Day of Judgment.


1.  There is a Lack of Urgency

Notice again what Jesus said in verse 48.

Matthew 24.48:  “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’”

This servant thought that he had all the time in the world to make whatever changes were necessary before his master returned.  There was no sense of urgency.  In 2 Peter 3.3-7, we find referenced another group of people who made that same mistake.

2 Peter 3.3,4:  “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’”

Some were wondering, “Why do we have to get ready for the Day of Judgment?  Where is His coming?  Everything is as it has always been since the day of creation.”

2 Peter 3.5,6:  “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.”

Through inspiration, Peter corrects their mistake.  They make the mistake on purpose as they willfully forget.  They had selective memory.  What they failed to remember is that the world that God created in which we read of in Genesis 1, the word that was standing out of water and in the water, the world that then existed was flooded.

When you go to Genesis chapters 6-9, you will read about this catastrophic event that destroyed the world known as the flood.  These scoffers claimed that the world is currently in the same state it was in since the very beginning.  That was not true.  They willfully forgot about the flood.  God destroyed the world by means of a global flood.  That word that brought about the flood is the same word that promised that Christ would come again and the world would be destroyed.  (v. 7)

Do you have a sense of urgency to get your life right with God?  Do not be like Felix who said, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”  (Acts 24.25).  If you are not ready then perhaps it is because you do not see the urgency. 

The spiritually death that is caused by sin is serious.  But we no longer see it that way.  We shrug our shoulders at it.  But we need to realize that we are dealing with life and death, heaven and hell.  And we need to see it as urgent.


2.  We Keep Bad Company

Going back to the parable of the faithful servant, the evil servant noticed that his master was delaying…

Matthew 24.49:  “and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,”

Some people refuse to be ready and prepared for the Day of Judgment because of the bad influence of others in their lives.  This unfaithful servant was eating and drinking with the drunkards.

If you are not ready for the Day of Judgment, if your life is not right with God this very day, perhaps it is because you have people in your life who are more important and more influential to you than God.


3.  There is an Attitude of Indifference

Matthew 24.50:  “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,”

It is because of complete indifference.  This unfaithful servant wasn’t even looking for the return of his master.  He was not interested.

Perhaps you are not ready for the Day of Judgment simply because it is not something that is important to you at this time.  There is a lack of interest.

Like a thief in the night, Jesus is coming at a time when no one will expect Him.  So what do we do?  Jesus gives this parable of the faithful servant to warn us and teach us what to do.  Be ready!



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