The parable of the faithful and evil servants admonishes us to be faithful and wise in carrying out responsibilities and relationships with our fellow servants, our brothers in the body of Christ.
A faithful person is trustworthy, scrupulous, honest, upright, and truthful. Without specifically stating it, Christ is saying that we have to be keeping the first of the two great commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).
In this context "wise" means judicious, prudent, sensible, showing sound judgment. It suggests an understanding of people and situations, showing unusual discernment and judgment in dealing with them. Just as Paul writes in I Thessalonians 5:6 about being self-controlled, Christ's use of "wise" indicates an exercising of restraint, using sound, practical wisdom and discretion, and acting in good sense and godly rationality. In short, Christ means exercising love. He tells us that we should be faithful in keeping the second of the two great commandments: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39).
Since this parable applies to everyone, Christ admonishes us to lead in a way that unites and inspires others to be faithful. We do this by giving them the truth, a good example, and encouragement. In this way, we become wise and faithful stewards of the trust God has given us.
In these verses, Christ strongly links belief with behavior in both examples. If we believe in His return, we will not live as we would like carnally. It is as simple as that. If we really believe He will return soon, this parable shows that our belief will regulate our lives, keeping us from extremes of conduct.
This faithful attitude is opposed to that of the scornful servant, who says his master delays His coming and beats his fellows. His conduct turns for the worse as he eats and drinks with the drunkards. From the description Christ provides, the evil servant's attitude is arrogant, violent, self-indulgent, gluttonous, and hypocritical. Because he believes he has plenty of time to square his relationship with God, his conduct becomes evil.
In summary, whoever is entrusted with duties must perform them faithfully, prepared at all times to account for what he has done. The key words in this parable are faithful, wise, and ready.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism
The attitude of the evil servant is contrary to the command to be ready. His severe treatment of the other servants is similar to the description of false leaders who ravage the congregation (Acts 20:29-30). Similarly, the dramatic portrayal of the servant's punishment, "cut him in two," stresses the seriousness of his evasion of responsibility. The original statement in Aramaic was probably "he was cut off," which has two implications: to be executed or exiled for sin. With respect to the church, it means being disfellowshipped from associating with church members because of flagrant sin. Luke 12:42-46 emphasizes our responsibility for those placed under our care. On the other hand, verses 47-48 focus on our response to our Master's command.
Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Faithful and Evil Servants
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 24:48: