Central message

This Matthean Bible passage falls under the concept of eschatology (Matt. 24:1-31). One of the eschatological occurrences foretold is the return of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:29-31). The focus passage (Matt. 24:45-51) falls in-between a group of successive passages (Matt. 24:32-25; 46-51) which are advices on how best to live currently in line with this eschatology. The verses preceding and succeeding The Parable of the Good Servant and the Wicked Servant has several repeated warnings which states that, though the end is foreseen, there is no one who knows when exactly the end will come (Matt. 24:36, 42, 44; 25:13). These exhortations are concerned with the time between the first and the second coming of Christ, this time in which the master has embarked on a trip which he will return from (Matt. 25:14), as explained in the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30). Since the time when the second advent of the Son of Man will take place is unknown, the Lords servants are enjoined to be prepared (Matt. 24:36-44; 25:1-13) and wise (Matt. 24:32-35)

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Literally, this Bible passage can be called a parable due to three reasons. (1) Even though Matthew didnt specifically refer to it as a parable, Luke did. (Luke 12:41). (2) In the 32nd verse i.e. Matt 24:32, an end to the eschatological discourse was made by the evangelist (24:1-31) and an explanation of its dangers with a number of parables began with the first one being the parable of the fig tree (Matt. 24:32-35). More parables were given until Matthew began an account of the works of Jesus. (3) The heading of this paragraph in the Synopsis of the Four Gospels (Aland 1987, 266) as well as several biblical commentators equally view this Bible passage as a parable (Tasker 1961, 228; Hagner 1995, 723-724).

This Parable of the Good Servant and the Wicked Servant in the book of Matthew appears only once elsewhere in the Bible (Luke 12:41-46). The setting of Lukes parable is different as Jesus gives it while travelling, with the precise location being somewhere between Jerusalem and Galilee. As this Bible passage is not seen in Mark and is not used in the same context as Matthew and Luke, it is very likely that Luke and Matthew chose the parable from the traditions which they discovered within the source named Q (Hagner 1995, 723). Even though Luke has positioned this parable differently as it appears in the travel narrative, he applied it in a similar way to Matthew i.e. he related it to the eschatological teaching of Jesus and also connected it to his disciples and how they behaved in the time between Christ first and second coming.

Interpretation of the message

The servant can decide to be bad or good. In this parable, every human is seen as a potential servant. Good servants can be known via their behaviour which is expected to be wise and truthful. He completes all expected tasks and takes care of the Lords household. These servants represent Jesus disciples (Carson 1984, 510). Therefore, the good servants are the group of servants made up of the church leaders and others who have an allotted responsibility in the church; the Lords household. Any man who proves to be faithful will be acknowledged and satisfied with eschatological rewards.

On the other hand, evil servants show their nature via their selfish choices that are clear to see from their evil behaviour. He disobeys the masters instructions and instead focuses on personal pleasures, just like that seen among unbelievers. Unfaithful service, just like the other, will be acknowledged but mercilessly punished and condemned. The parables master is Jesus. The wise and faithful servant refers to the believer while the evil servant refers to the unbeliever. Thus, parable demonstrated two methods by which belief is turned into action, one being; positive action, while the other, negative action.

The major point or reaction which this parable, as well as the others close to it, is expected to generate is responsibility, faithfulness, readiness, preparedness and watchfulness for the unexpected return of the master. In this time, perfect servants exude faithfulness via their total submission to the will of the Lord. In the same vein, the unfaithful ones will manifest via their rebellion (Carson, 1984). The merciless punishment of the unfaithful ones should not be interpreted as a sign that believers can forfeit their salvation which is a forfeiture of eternal safety. Instead, this punishment is expected to simply show the way a servant (a human being) possessing an unfaithful heart proves, via his undesirable actions, that he doesnt really serve the master and thus, this culminates into an evil end.


The initial aim of this Bible passage is very well interpreted into the current society and applies to all mankind and even more to those who believe in Christ. In fact, the massage it carries is much more crucial now than when it was originally given as the history of the church now spans over two thousand years, confirming the much-spoken about delay of the masters return. Due to this, it is much more tempting to doubt or question the speed of Jesuss return (Carson, 1984) and thus, the chance of deserting responsibilities is much greater. The reality of Jesuss coming should encourage the faithful servant instead of an estimate of the exact time. However, on the bright side, the wise and faithful servant these days is the person who continuously and steadily performs his God-given tasks (Hagner, 1995), no matter what it is.

The modern-day Christian who desired to be wise and faithful must maintain a continuous vigil where he/she strives towards fulfilling the expectations and responsibilities given to him/her as a result of his/her connection to the Lord. On the other hand, though, the distractions in this modern world are numerous: easy and economic entertainment such as video, email, television, cell phones, cinema and the Internet; also, novel varieties of sensual pleasure like greed, homosexuality, designer drugs, cohabitation, consumerism and unlawful heterosexual forms (Hagner, 1995). Furthermore, we have the philosophically and intellectually fortified individualism and atheism icons. These distractions are not any more damning then any one mentioned previously within the passage (gluttony, drinking and physical abuse), however, it is very widespread and accepted these days. Anyone who allows himself to be carried away by these attractions is being disobedient and unfaithful to the Lord.




Hagner, D. A. (1995). Matthew 14-28. , gen. ed. Bruce M. Metzger, vol. 33B. Dallas, Texas: Word.

Tasker, R. G. V. (1961). The Gospel according to Matthew. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, vol. 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans.

Carson, D. A. (1984). Matthew. The Expositors Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Aland, Kurt, ed. (1987). Synopsis of the four Gospels: . . Stuttgart: German Bible Society.