Translations: Chinese GB Big5

The Parable of 
The Faithful and Wicked Servants

Matt 24:45-51; Lk 12:42-48

Luke 12:42-48  The Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times? Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes. Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ĎMy lord delays his coming,í and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, then the lord of that servant will come in a day when he isnít expecting him, and in an hour that he doesnít know, and will cut him in two, and place his portion with the unfaithful. {"unbelievers"}

That servant, who knew his lordís will, and didnít prepare, nor do what he wanted, will be beaten with many stripes, but he who didnít know, and did things worthy of stripes, will be beaten with few stripes. To whoever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked." (web)

Discussion Questions

Who are the servants? Only the redeemed?
What about the man who was cut in pieces and assigned a place with the unbelievers?
What is the reward for service mentioned here?
And what does the punishment for disservice mean?
How would you characterize the two categories of disservice mentioned?
How would you paraphrase the truths mentioned in the final paragraph?
What have you been entrusted with? And have you much or little - in terms both of knowledge and resources?
What does God expect you to do with these?


This parable is a continuation from the previous parable.

Peter's Question

Peter's question is somewhat profound. It's a question that the Lord hadn't answered explicitly here and one which has been disputed for centuries. When Jesus speaks of "servants" is he referring only to those who have been redeemed, born of God, the true believers? Or is it referring to everyone who reckons himself or is reckoned a servant of God by others, which would include nominal Christians, and even the Scribes and Pharisees as being the servants he speaks of?

Whichever assumption we make, it will affect our interpretation of what Jesus means when he speaks of those being cut to pieces. Some think of it as losing salvation and going to hell. Others imagine a purgatory scenario. However I go along with the traditional evangelical and calvinist position on this. That such servants were only so in a nominal sense and hadn't established a living relationship with the master. Thus they didn't have the spirit of the master in carrying out their duties, their resultant behavior being inevitable. In other words, rather than losing salvation, they had never really been saved to begin with.

An interesting question, however, is why didn't Jesus make this more clear? For not only here, but in many other places he leaves one with potentially ambiguous interpretations. I say "potentially", for these issues are resolved when these kind of sections, are filtered through the rest of the apostles' writings.

It seems clear to me that Jesus intended for Christians to have a degree of uncertainty concerning their escape from condemnation. This doesn't conflict with the doctrine of eternal security, but rather when it comes to assurance of salvation one should not be overly presumptuous about whether one had ever been born of God.

We based our assurance of our justification upon the atoning work of Christ alone. But to be qualified to receive such justification, we have to have a faith of a quality acceptable to God. We base our assurance that we have been born of God upon our performance. As it is written:

"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:9,10 (NIV)
And in particular, as is relevant to this parable:
"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands." 1John 2:3


The actual service itself in this case deals with taking care of the other servants. Of course we all have a degree of responsibility to other Christians around us, and some more than others, according to their level of authority. But you may recall the judgment at the end of Matthew 25 in which the sheep and goats are separated and judged according to how they treated Christ's brethren. This is similar.

Thus it is essential for us to identify our responsibility and to consider whether we are edifying the brethren. Jesus also often associates food with the Word of God. Man does not live on bread alone but on every word which proceeds from the mouth of God. Thus there are practical and spiritual ways to edify others. Don't neglect the value of the edifying others with the Bible.

Reward for Service

What is God's reward for a job well done? God will give them more responsibilities. What! I thought that we enter His rest! What's this about more responsibilities? Just as the wife in the marriage relationship was made to serve her husband, so we were made to serve God. Of course in this age of self-centered pleasure seeking and rebelliousness, many Christians have lost perspective both on the purpose of many of the basic role relationships and even concerning their relationship with Christ. Many accept Christ as Savior only, and as a sort Santa Claus figure whose sole purpose is to serve them. The fact that Christ is Lord has escaped many a "Christian" in practice.

The more responsibilities we have, the more we will be held responsible for. On the positive side, the more responsibilities, the greater the potential reward. But then again, the more the potential punishment.

Punishment for Disservice

For you who call Jesus Lord, and even perhaps hold some position of service or authority in the visible church, but if you don't actually serve - if you don't actually treat Jesus as Lord, you will be assigned a place with the unbelievers. For that is what you really are. In the parallel passage in Matt 24:51 these same are assigned to a place with the hypocrites, just as Jesus said, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!" I have met a number of "Christians" who consider themselves among the religious elite, yet who abuse the servants of Christ even slandering them and teaching false things and who abuse the resources God has entrusted to them for the purpose of satisfying their own personal passions and ambitions. They will not escape condemnation.

There are two extremes of these people. The ones beating the servants represent the legalistists. They may be more likened to the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus' times. Then there are those who eat, drink and get drunk. These represent the lawless Christians - who go on to live a lifestyle of sin.

These are both speaking of "nominal" Christians - those who associate themselves with the visible Church, but have not been born of God, not having the quality of faith that saves. They will be cut to pieces and sent to hell.

In fact their judgment will be worse than those unbelievers who don't know of Christ or don't know much about the will of God as revealed in the Bible. The more you know, the more you will be held responsible for.

"Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you."Matt 11:21,22
And speaking again of nominal Christians:
"Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?" Heb 10:28,29


Don't take positions of service lightly. If you call Jesus Lord, treat Him that way. Don't be presumptuous about your salvation status if your behavior is inconsistent with that expected from one born of God. Rather,
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-- unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Cor 13:5


It will be good for that servant whom the Lord puts in charge
Of his fellow servants. His reward will be large
If he carries out his duties a reward he will earn
When the master finds him doing so after his return
He will give him charge of all his possessions.
But concerning his return , suppose the servant questions
"My master is taking a long time to come",
And beats some servants and abuses them
He becomes legalistic or perhaps even lawless
His performance is to say the least far from flawless
The master of that servant will come when he does not expect
Even though that servant may think he's one of the elect
He'll be cut in pieces and assigned a place
With the unbelievers, rather than in God's grace
If he does not act, though the master's will he knows
He will then be beaten and that with many blows.
But those who do not know, though behaving bad
Will be beaten less than his fellow comrade
From those given much, much will be demanded
So act responsibly or else be reprimanded

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015