Jared....Have you seen my thread identifying who the OT model of the "faithful and wise servant" is? The parable is clearly based on the figure of Joseph, who was Potiphar's servant and who was appointed first over Potiphar's household and then over all of Egypt in giving out food rations during the famine:
Once you know of the original metaphor, the parable makes better sense. Like Egypt in the time of Joseph, the world was believed to be in a state of spiritual famine at the time Jesus came. This depends on the common Jewish apocalyptic belief that the time preceding the Messiah's arrival and/or divine judgment is an "age of iniquity". The use of sitometrion "rations of grain" in the Parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant is significant because it (1) recalls the famine of Joseph and (2) within the gospel "grain" is used to symbolize the word of the kingdom. Thus in the Parable of the Sower "the seed is the word of God" which, when it falls on good soil, that is, "a people with a noble and generous heart who have heard the word and take it to themselves and yield a harvest through their perseverence" (Luke 8:11-15). Paul also has a similar understanding where he says: "I did the planting, Apollos did the watering, but God made things grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6). The rations of grain that Jesus entrusts to his disciples is like the vineyard in the Parable of the Wicked Husbandman that the "landlord" leases to his tenants as "their inheritance" (Luke 20:9-16). Jesus is passing on to his disciples his teaching, his wisdom -- which in the synoptic gospels constitutes the Word -- and he expects his disciples to pass on the teaching, to plant it in new soil, and reap the benefits.
This message in Luke and the other synoptics is not just the announcement that the kingdom of God has arrived but the moral teaching that Jesus gives, on how to treat others and how to live one's life for the kingdom. Thus, living in a wealthy lifestyle shuts one out of the kingdom while living charitably and in poverty guarantees one's place in the kingdom. This theme is especially prominent in Luke (cf. Luke 6:20-24, 12:13-34, 13:22-30, 16:19-31, 18:18-30). In fact, the Parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant in Luke 12:42-48 directly follows an admonishment to be "ready" for the kingdom (v. 35-40), to be already "dressed," which pertains to the way one lives one's life as described in the preceding verses:
?This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!... And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men 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" (Luke 12:29-36).
Jesus' followers thus are commanded not only to spread the message of the kingdom but to also live it. One cannot be ready for the kingdom if one is living in a way that disqualifies himself from the kingdom. The faithful and wise servant is thus not a particular organization, a religious group per se, but to individuals who, by their own actions, are living faithfully and wisely who are to be rewarded with rewards of the kingdom. In just the same way that Joseph was promoted and rewarded on the basis of his own faith and wise course of action. Thus, in Luke 12:43, it is the actions of the faithful and wise servant that are emphasized, whereas in v. 45 it is the evil slave who does not do what his Master wants and abuses the menservants and maidservants. This focus on praxis is explicit in v. 47: ?That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows".
One thing I'm not too clear on yet is whether the model of the faithful and wise servant applies to everyone who acts faithfully on the kingdom message or only to the "shepherds" of the flock who do so, e.g. the apostles, the presbyters, the bishops, etc. This distinction is itself raised by Peter's own question that elicits the parable in Luke 12:41: "Peter asked, 'Lord, are you telling this parable to us (e.g. the apostles) or to everyone?' " The act of "feeding" is specifically associated with pastoral oversight in John 21:15, 18 when Jesus instructs Peter to "feed my lambs", and Jude 12 refers to itinerant preachers (cf. the "apostles and prophets" of Didache 11:3-6) who "feed only themselves": that is, they claim to the leaders in the church but instead of tending the flock they only look after themselves. Jude 12 is alluding to Ezekiel 34:2-3 which indicts the shepherds (that is, the rulers) of Israel for feeding themselves instead of the sheep -- indeed they feast on the meat provided by the sheep. Like the metaphor in Ezekiel, the polemic is against those people in authority who fleece the church and make financial gain. This is the thought in the preceding verse which likens these pseudo-pastors to Balaam's greed (Jude 11, "they plunged into Balaam's error for profit") and Didache 11:10, 12 similarly states: "If any prophet teaches the truth, yet does not practice what he teaches, he is a false prophet....If anyone should say in the Spirit, 'Give me money,' or anything else, do not listen to him. But if he tells you to give on behalf of others who are in need, let no one judge him". This thought actually ties rather nicely to Luke 12, which criticizes those who look for material gain in this world and who do not practice what Jesus has taught them. Despite this, it is not entirely clear to me whether a pastoral interpretation is what is demanded by the parable. I get the impression that it pertains to anyone who is storing up treasures of the kingdom and who lives in accordance to the kingdom, and not just those with pastoral authority.
The Society clearly endorses a pastoral interpretation of the parable, viewing it as indicating a division between Christians between the authoritative F&DS class (e.g. the de facto clergy of the Witnesses) and the "other sheep". However, this totally overlooks the focus of the parable on individual actions that wisely and faithfully anticipate the kingdom. We are judged by God as individuals on whether we do "what [our] Master wants" (Luke 12:47). There is no modern "organization" that the parable is identifying; the "servant" is all those (or all those with oversight) who live according to the kingdom promise. At the time Luke was written, this simply referred to the ideological "church" of followers of Christ. Now, almost two thousand years later, the Society applies the parable to the modern-day landscape of churches and denominations and sects of Christianity and assumes that only one of these (e.g. their own organization) must correspond to the "faithful servant". But the parable has no reference to a particular organization, only to those within the early church who -- in contrast to the "evil servant" co-existing with them -- did their Master's will. The sense of the parable would thus best apply to all who profess to follow Jesus and do his will, and it is entirely extraneous to the parable to claim that everyone who manifests themselves as the Joseph-like "faithful servant" is necessarily confined to one specific religious sect (i.e. the Witnesses) -- much less that within this sect it is restricted only to a tiny minority mostly born before 1935! Their interpretation of the parable is really a non sequitur in assuming a unique link to themselves when none exists in the actual text. Indeed, if the pastoral interpretation is to be insisted upon, one must ask how the Witnesses distinguish themselves from other religions in their taking care of the flock and their charitable works. Are there people in other Christian faiths who live more in accord with Luke 12:29-36? (duh -- )
So when your father demands to know WHO, WHO, WHO is the faithful and wise servant is, think of the individual man Joseph and how he lived wisely and faithfully, and think of how Jesus' parable was intended not to identify a religious organization but to emphasize the difference between Christians who live according to "their Master's will" and those who profess to "know their Master's will" and even teach what their Master says but who "do not do what their Master wants". To know who, then, does the will, and thus who is the faithful and wise servant, one needs to review in the gospels what Jesus instructed his disciples to do, his moral teaching on how to live one's life, and especially how to live poorly in this present world so that one lives richly in the world to come. Considering how little emphasis the Society places on Jesus' moral teaching and how little of it is evidenced by the organization itself (examples come easily to mind), it should not be easy to show that the parable refers not to the Watchtower organization but to all Christians (or Christians with pastoral duties) who live in accordance to Jesus' words and care for others.