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".