The Faithful and Discreet Slave

What does the Bible say about the “faithful and discreet slave” regarding Jesus’ return?

This term is used in illustrations by Jesus:

  • Matthew 24:45-47 (NIV); “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” The New World Translation renders the term as, “the faithful and discreet slave.”
  • Mark 13:34-37(NIV); “It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
  • Luke 12:35-48; “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” 41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” 42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. 46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows.48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. 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.

Simply put, the faithful servant does the will of the master. In stark contrast, the “wicked servant” does not do the will of the master and persecutes those who do the master’s will.

Another notable thing is that neither servant knows when his master is going to return. (Mark 13:35, Luke 12:40)

It is evident that when Jesus does return, his faithful servants and even his disloyal servants will not be expecting it. That is why he encourages his servants to “keep on the watch!” (Mark 13:37, Luke 12:40)

Malachi chapter 3 discusses the Lord’s return. Notice the word “suddenly” and how he comes to have to do a purifying work. He purifies God’s people so that their worship will be acceptable to the Almighty.

  • Malachi 3:1-4; “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years”

Jesus stated that no one knew the day or hour of his return, other than his Father. Matthew 24:36; “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

As shown earlier, Jesus had shown that his followers would not know the date of his return, until it happened. However, Jesus did elude to signs from the book of Daniel to show when the time was near.

  • Matthew 24:15; “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—”
  • Matthew 24:32-34; “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

Anyone to claim to know the date of Jesus’ return is false. Examples:

  • The “Great Disappointment” in the mid 1800’s had thousands expecting Jesus to return. When it did not happen, many turned to the thought that their belief had more to do with heaven than earth.
  • Harold Camping prophesied Jesus return to be in 2012. When it did not manifest, he claimed it to have a spiritual significance rather than a physical one. Finally, he admitted it was wrong to claim to know the “day or hour.”
  • Charles Taze Russell predicted the incoming of God’s kingdom, marking the end of the “gentile times” in October of 1914. When it did not happen, the Bible Students which became known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, stated that the prophesy dealt with Jesus beginning his rule in heaven. Yet, they still claim he came, but in a spiritual sense. Their translation is noted to have the word “presence” in many locations where Jesus was taking about the signs from Daniel and of his coming. Matthew 24:3; “the sign of your presence” (NWT). Most translations use the word “coming.” Notably, Jesus stated to not believe ones that said Jesus was here, when he was not. Matthew 24:23-26 (NWT); “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. 25 Look! I have forewarned you. 26 Therefore, if people say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence [(NWT)] of the Son of man will be.”
    • So according to the NWT with the Witnesses’ doctrine, Jesus is here in presence. Yet, Jesus himself warned his followers about people claiming that he was here, when he was not. Strangely enough, the Jehovah’s Witnesses not only believe he is here but is coming again. That begs the question, “How can Jesus come again if he is already here?” The Witnesses say that they predicted that Jesus would be here since 1914. However, Jesus himself foretold that his followers would not know the day or hour of his coming until he arrived. So how could Charles Russell, the founder of the modern day Jehovah’s Witnesses, or anyone else, know it ahead of time? They simply cannot, according to Jesus. However, as Jesus mentioned, there are signs to watch out for and by observing those signs, one can know that he is near! – Not present but near!
    • Matthew 24:27 as noted above denotes that everyone will know when Jesus is coming, according to the NIV; “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” This is a visible occurrence. Compare Revelation 6:12-17; 11:11-15; Daniel 12:1-2.

May we all be diligent in watching out for the signs of Jesus’ return and help others to straighten their worship to God!