Who really is the faithful and discreet slave? (A perspective)

by StoneWall 31 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • passwordprotected

    @ stonewall - you're really stretching for this one. When is Christ going to submit himself to the Father? Is it before or after the Master arrives to inspect his slaves?

    I'm sorry, but right now Christ is Lord of Lord, King of Kings, Lion of Judah and the one to whom all creation on heaven and earth is give honour, worship and praise.

    He most certainly is not the slave.

  • Narkissos


    Care to address the point I and yknot in particular have been trying to make? The problem is not whether Jesus can be called a "slave" in other contexts; rather, if the text is a parable opposing to moral types of leaders/teachers, it is utterly pointless to answer the question "who is the faithful and discreet slave" by pinning a name or a definition of "class". It is a rhetorical question, not the kind which presupposes a "yes" or "no" answer, but the kind which involves the reader/hearer and urges him to wonder "will Ibe like that slave, or like the evil slave?" "which kind of 'slave' am I?"

    Would you try to answer the following rhetorical questions with an individual name or a collective "class"?:
    "who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (3:7)
    "who among you will add a cubit to his life/size?" (6:27)
    "who is the man among you that will give a stone to his son if he asks for bread?" (7:9)
    "who among you will not get his sheep out of the pit?" (12:11)
    "who is my mother, who are my brothers?" (12:48f, general response in next verse)
    "who is the greatest in the kingdom of God?" (18:1).

    Why do that with "who is the faithful and discreet slave...?" (24:45)??

  • StoneWall

    Nark if what you say is correct and it just refers to anyone in general....then please answer the rest of that question for me.

    Who are all those faithful slaves going to be appointed over?(the belongings)

    Is it that they all prove faithful and they just are all appointed over each other? If so that sure seems like a mute point.

    Next question.....why does Jesus go on in next chapter of 25 and use the term slaves(plural not singular) when talking

    about his followers proving faithful?

  • Narkissos


    I try to explain that the who-question which is in the text does not call for an objective answer (instead it involves the target reader/hearer subjectively, to echo the question: 'am I this kind of 'slave' -- or the other?") and you ask me to answer objectively other who-questions which are not even in the text... :))

    I didn't say the parable applies to just "anybody" (read my first post again). The situation of the slave (whether he turns out to be "faithful and discreet" or "evil") is not that of anybody. He was appointed over others by his master, who is now absent but will return. He has authority, responsibility, and power -- to either "feed" or "beat" those who were entrusted to him. He can use it in either one or the other way, and is accountable to his master for his choices. The parable is directed to those who find themselves in a similar situation, i.e. Christian leaders/teachers. Any of them. The content of the parable qualifies the "anybody". It is not a parable about faithfulness "in general," but faithfulness in a particular situation.

    To your last question: the "slaves" in the next parable (25:14ff) are not an indefinite number: they are three (the virgins in the previous one are ten)! Do they "mean" three individuals, or three classes? Only if you forget it is a parable and misread it as a prophetic allegory, in WT fashion. If it is a parable, the lesson is simple: you may have received more or less responsibility, what matters is what you do with it.

  • Farkel

    Being the slave of anyone (including God) has only one clear meaning:


    Farkel, 14th Amendment Class

  • Narkissos

    Rightly or wrongly, I feel the real issue behind this "exegetical" discussion is that many Christian ex-JWs have a hard time admitting that there were authority structures in NT Christianity. Nothing centralised and uniform like the WT worldwide "organisation," of course, but still a more or less flexible "system" where some people held power and responsibility over others. (I noticed the same trend in Ray Franz's books, especially ISoCF, long ago.) To an extent an exception is made for the "apostles" because they were supposedly appointed directly by Jesus. But after the apostles are gone, it is tempting to imagine individual Christians directly subject to the invisible authority of Jesus, without any human mediation in the form of church leaders. Matthew 23:8ff ("you are all brothers") becomes the key prooftext for Christian individualism, and all passages referring to human authority (even to question how it may be used, like the "fds" parable) are to be explained away.

    However early Christianity always involved an authority structure. And while there was a development (and standardisation) from the kind of structures reflected in the NT (presbuteroi, diakonoi, episkopoi, etc.) to the later catholic hierarchy, there is more continuity in this process than Christian "individualists," especially those who have suffered from a particularly oppressive organisational structure, might understandably wish to see.

  • PSacramento

    I think that we must ask ourselves, when we read any biblical verse, is there a reason NOT to take this in it most straightforward and obvious way of interpretation?

    The discreet and faithful slave was a parable, is there any reason N OT to take it as a parable?

    Jesus described many parables and exmapline them to his apostles, those that had mor inner meaning than it seamed on the surface, he didn't do it with this one.

    There is no notion that Jesus is the slave or that its a person or group of people or a SELECT group of people, only the notion that those doing the biding of their lord will be recompensed according to their deeds.

  • isaacaustin

    For once, i agree with you PJSCHIPPER

  • Leolaia

    Another key fact that should be mentioned is the parable's context; it occurs in the middle of a series of six parables all dealing with proper Christian behavior while waiting for the parousia. The first parable, concerning the Flood (24:36-41), makes the point that people in Noah's day had no knowledge of what was going to happen and thus lived their normal day-to-day lives without taking heed. The parousia here is likened to the sudden, unexpected coming of the Flood. The point of this parable is that Christians have the knowledge of what is going to happen although they do not know when it is going to happen. The second parable concerning the thief (v. 42-44) makes the point that with knowledge comes action — one must prepare for the parousia by "keeping watch" and "being ready" for it whenever it should occur. Here the parousia is likened to the coming of a thief in the middle of the night. The third parable is that of the faithful and wise servant (v. 45-51), and this parable elaborates further on what proper Christian behavior while waiting for the parousia should be. Those who care for their brothers are supposed to treat them as responsibly in the Lord's absence (before the parousia) as they would in his own presence. Here the parousia is likened to the coming of the Lord (the master of the servants) to his household. Those who care for their fellow servants would be rewarded with glory while those who mistreat the members of his household would perish amid weeping and gnashing of teeth. The fourth parable of the bridegroom (25:1-13) elaborates the point made in the first two parables about keeping watch for the parousia. The parousia is likened to the coming of a bridegroom and the ten virgins represent those waiting for the parousia. The point of the parable is that even keeping watch is not enough; all may still fall asleep and still be taken by surprise when it happens. But what is important is to be prepared beforehand so that when it occurs, even if by surprise, one will be able to respond appropriately. This carries over the theme of the previous parable of the importance of wisdom and discretion in guiding one's actions during the master's absence. The fifth parable of the talents (v. 14-28) makes the same point about using the time wisely while waiting for the master's return, the event that is likened to the parousia. The servants were entrusted with the master's funds just as the two servants in the third parable were given the task of caring for the master's household. The return of the master to settle accounts is likened to the parousia. The servants who wisely invested the money are rewarded whereas the servant who out of fear did nothing with the money during his master's absence perishes amid weeping and gnashing of teeth. The last parable, that of the sheep and goats (v. 31-46) explicitly relates the figurative metaphor to the coming of the Son of Man and his separation of the good from the wicked on the Day of Judgment. The moral from the parable of the faithful and wise servant is resumed here: Those who treated their fellow brothers with kindness, who cared for the sick and those hungry and in need, are rewarded with glory whereas those who did nothing to care for their brothers are punished with everlasting punishment with weeping and gnashing of teeth. All six parables discuss different aspects of the same theme, proper Christian conduct during the period preceding the parousia.

    It is also worth noting that the imagery and language from the parable of the faithful and wise servant comes directly from the story of Joseph in Genesis and in the parabiblical literature. In Hellenistic Jewish writings, Joseph was regarded as an example par excellence of moral virtue — he used his position of authority for the betterment of others, he treated others fairly and honestly and without arrogance, he sought to console and help his fellow brothers, he was patient and prepared for the future with foresight and wisdom, and with prudence he distributed food to everyone in a proper manner during their time of need.

    Jubilees 39:3-4, 40:8-9, 43:23: "And Potiphar set Joseph over all of his house and the blessing of the Lord was upon the house of the Egyptian because of Joseph and the Lord caused everything he did to prosper. And the Egyptian left everything in the hands of Joseph because he was that the Lord was with him and the Lord caused everything he did to prosper....And Joseph ruled in all the land of Egypt and all of the judges and all of the servants of Pharaoh and all of those who did the king's work loved him because he walked uprightly and he had no pompousness or arrogance or partiality, and there was no bribery because he ruled all the people of the land uprightly. And the land of Egypt was at peace before Pharaoh on account of Joseph because the Lord was with him and gave him favor and mercy for all his family before all who knew him and those who heard witness of him.... And his brothers went up and they told their father that Joseph was alive and that he was distributing grain to all of the people of the land. And he ruled over all the land of Egypt".

    Testament of Joseph 10:6, 17:1-18:1: "I did not arouse myself with evil design, but honored my brothers and out of regard for them even when they sold me I was silent rather than tell the Ishmaelites that I was the son of Jacob, a great and righteous man.... So you see, my children, how many things I endured in order not to bring my brothers into disgrace. You therefore love one another and in patient endurance conceal one another's shortcomings. God is delighted by harmony among brothers and by the intention of a kind heart that takes pleasure in goodness. When my brothers came to Egypt they learned that I had returned their money to them, that I did not scorn them, and that I sought to console them. After the death of Jacob, my father, I loved them beyond measure and everything he had wanted for them I did abundantly in their behalf. I did not permit them to be troubled by the slightest matter and everything I had under my control I gave to them. Their sons were mine, and mine were as their servants; their life was as my life, and every pain of theirs was my pain, every ailment of theirs was my sickness, their wish was as my wish. I did not exalt myself above them arrogantly because of my worldly position of glory, but I was among them as one of the least. If you live in accord with the Lord's commandments, God will exalt you with good things forever".

    Joseph and Asenath 4:7-10: "Pentephres, Asenath's father, said to her: 'Joseph, the powerful one of God is coming to us today. And he is chief of the whole land of Egypt, and the king Pharaoh appointed him king of the whole land, and he is giving grain to the whole land, and saving it from the oncoming famine. And Joseph is a man who worships God, and self-controlled, and a virgin like you today, and Joseph is also a man powerful in wisdom and experience, and the spirit of God is upon him, and the grace of the Lord is with him. Come, my child, and I will hand you over to him as his wife, and you will be a bridge to him, and he will be your bridegroom forever and ever.' And when Asenath heard these words from her father, plenty of red sweat poured over her face, and she became furious with great anger, and looked askance at her father with her eyes and said, 'Why does my lord and my father speak words such as these, to hand me over like a captive to a man who is an alien, and a fugitive, who was sold as a slave? Is he not the shepherd's son from the land of Canaan, and he himself was caught in the act sleeping with his mistress, and his master threw him into the prison of darkness?' ".

    Philo, De Josepho 27, 43: "Joseph was appointed the king's governor and after undertaking the government and administration of all of Egypt, he went forth to become better acquainted with the Egyptians, and he studied all their laws established in different cities. This caused those who saw him to have great affection for him in their hearts, not only because of the services he rendered for them but also on account of his unmatched beauty and the courtesy with which he treated them.... Already the prudence of the young man was celebrated in every quarter who had provided abundant food in a time of such necessity.... And the young man Joseph displayed unlimited good faith and honesty in all his dealings. Although the time and circumstance gave him innumerable opportunities of making money such that he could have quickly become the richest man of that kingdom and age, he honored genuine treasure ahead of illegitimate wealth. He stored up all the silver and gold which he collected for payment of grain into the king's treasury, not appropriating a single drachma for his own use but being satisfied with only the gifts which the king bestowed on him of his own accord in payment for his services. And in this manner he governed Egypt and lands beyond it during the oppresive famine. His manner was too admirable for any description to do it justice; he distributed food to everyone in a proper manner and looked not for his own present advantage but also what would be of future benefit for all".

  • Leolaia

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