11. Faithful and Wise Servant
(Parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Servants)

(Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-48)


The parable of the faithful and wise servant, also called the parable of the faithful and unfaithful servants, is told by Jesus to illustrate the seriousness of being ready for Jesus' return by truly acting like a Christian.


Context of the Parable

In context, Jesus has just been discussing the fact that he will be returning at an unexpected time.

For this reason, he urges them to be ready and watchful for his return.


In order to further illustrate this seriousness of his return, he tells his disciples the parable of the faithful and wise servant, although also called the parable of the faithful and "unfaithful" servant for good reason.


Summary and Meaning of the Parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant (Faithful and Unfaithful Servants)

Jesus says, "Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions." (Matthew 24:46-47 and Luke 12:43-44)


However, Jesus then immediately warns them about the unfaithful servant.

He says that if the servant says to himself "My master is delayed" (Matthew 24:48; Luke 12:45), and thus begins to mistreat his fellow slaves and drink (instead of working), then:

"the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know.

He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:50-51)

The point?

God will not be fooled. Those who are hard at work, serving their master (God), will be rewarded.

However, those who pretend to be God's servant, but do not serve their master while he is not present, will be put with the hypocrites and the unfaithful.


Context After the Parable

Jesus also says, "That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating." (Luke 12:47)

Of course, as already said, we can't fool God.

We might be able to pretend like we don't know what he wants, but God knows we know. (We at least know that God wants us to learn how to serve and obey him.)

As for those who truly don't know, Jesus says, "But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating." (Luke 12:48)

However, ultimately, it's better to know and obey, than it is to not know and accidentally disobey (although the worst is to know and disobey).


Additional Sources

There are several other parables that communicate this idea that it is necessary to obey (we show what we believe by what we do), which are:

Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders


Parable of the Two Sons


Parable of the Wedding Banquet


Parable of the Sheep and Goats



The following page also discusses the fact that Jesus does teach we are to obey God's Commandments by showing with our actions that we accept God's gift of salvation, although the author takes a different approach than the parables of Jesus:

Do we have to obey God's Commandments for Salvation?
(opens in new window)


Go to previous parable: 10. Lost Sheep

Go to next parable: 12. The Talents (Pounds)



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