Harmony of the Gospels

-Tuesday-

Mount of Olives

Jesus Tells of the Future

Matthew 24:32-51 (Focal Passage), Mark 13:28-37, Luke 21:29-38

PART 8: The Parable Of The Fig Tree As A Sign

 

Matthew 24:32-51

32 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
33 "So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!
34 "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
37 "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
40 "Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.
41 "Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
42 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
43 "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
44 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
45 "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?
46 "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.
47 "Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.
48 "But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’
49 "and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,
50 "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,
51 "and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

Mark 13:28-37

28 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
29 "So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors!
30 "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
31 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
32 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
33 "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
34 "It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch.
35 "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—
36 "lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping.
37 "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"

 

Luke 21:29-38

29 Then He spoke to them a parable: "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.
30 "When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.
31 "So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.
33 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
34 "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.
35 "For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36 "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
37 And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet.
38 Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.

 

 

 

32 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.

Now learn this parable from the fig tree. Again our Lord draws a spiritual lesson from nature. When the branches of the fig tree become green and tender, you know that summer is near. We have seen that the fig tree pictures the nation of Israel (Mt. 21:18–22). For hundreds of years Israel has been dormant, with no government of its own, no land, no temple, no priesthood—no sign of national life. The people have been scattered throughout the world.

Then, in 1948, Israel became a nation with its own land, government, currency, stamps, etc. Spiritually, the nation is still barren and cold; there is no fruit for God. But nationally, we might say that its branches are green and tender.

When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves. The illustration of the fig tree is referred to as a parable. The immediate context seems to refer to the fig tree in a natural (not symbolic) sense. While it is clear in Scripture that Israel is symbolized, at times, by the fig tree, the usage here simply seems to be that as these events reach the zenith, of their fulfillment, the actual and ultimate return of Christ follows immediately. Just as God has built into nature certain time indicators, such as, trees budding, so He has built into history certain time indicators of coming future events. Jesus’ reference to when "ye shall see all these things" has caused some to speculate that these predicted events only relate to the coming destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, within the disciples’ lifetime. Others view the fig tree as Israel "budding" in the last days as a reborn nation. I have taken the popular view that "all these things" refers to the preceding context of the Olivet Discourse.

You know that summer is near.

We have here, in these verses, the practical application of the foregoing predictions made by our Lord in His Olivet Discourse. Now, we must expect that all these things will happen just as He predicted, and prepare for them.

33 "So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!

So you also, when you see all these things. Israel’s emergence as a nation means not only that the beginning of the Tribulation is near, but that the Lord Himself is near, at the very doors!

If Christ’s coming to reign is so near, how much more imminent is the Rapture of the church? If we already see shadows of events that must precede His appearing in glory, how much closer are we to the first phase of His Second Coming or Advent (1 Th. 4:13–18)?

Know that it is near—at the doors! I wonder, what use are we to make of our Lord’s predictions? We should observe and understand the signs of the times, and compare them with the predictions of the Word, and thereby discover what is at the door; and then act accordingly.

There are certain things happening in our world to suggest that His return may be very close. They are: (1) Israel's return to the Promised Land; (2) the obvious acceleration of lawlessness; (3) increase of apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1); (4) the socio-religious climate preparing for the one world church; and (5) the rapid acceleration of life threatening conditions--such as potential atomic annihilation, population explosion, and pollution--that require Christ's return before events run their natural course and terminate the world.

The parable of the fig-tree is just this, that its budding and blossoming are a sign or signal that summer is here. The fig trees bloom every year to announce the coming of summer--it has always been that way because God has ordained it. When God begins to fulfill prophecies, he will make them happen. There is a certain series in the operation of God’s providence, as there is in the works of nature. The signs of the times reveal that summer is coming, not immediately, but at some time in the future. After the branch grows tender, we expect the March winds, and the April showers, before the summer comes; however, we are sure it is coming. The gospel is like the fig tree in this respect. When the gospel comes to a man or woman, something happens. Aren’t we told in the Word, that God’s word never returns void and that it always accomplishes His Purposes. We may never see any change, but some water and some harvest. The Holy Spirit will take the gospel and with it work a miracle in the heart of a sinner. So when the gospel comes, you can count on it, that through a variety of events, God will complete what he begins in the sinner‘s heart. Note, When the trees of righteousness begin to bud and blossom, when God’s people promise faithfulness, it is a happy indication of good times.

Now concerning the events foretold previously, which we are to expect, Jesus relates:


34 "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

Assuredly, I say to you. The Lord Jesus often used "Amen," translated "verily," or "assuredly," as it is here, to introduce new revelations of the mind of God. In John’s Gospel it is always repeated, "Amen, Amen," but not elsewhere. Luke does not use it at all, but where Matthew, 16:28, and Mark, 9:1, have "Amen," Luke has "of a truth." These expressions are very important, because when our Lord used them, what followed was something that we need to know. Today, we might say "Now, listen to this" or "pay close attention."

This generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. "This generation" could not mean the people living when Christ was on earth; they have all passed away, yet the events of chapter 24 have not taken place. What then did our Lord mean by "this generation"? There are three plausible explanations.

F. W. Grant and others believe the thought is: "the very generation that sees the beginning of these things will see the end." The same people who see the rise of Israel as a nation (or who see the beginning of the Tribulation), will see the Lord Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven to reign.

The other explanation is that "generation" should be understood as race. This is a legitimate translation of the Greek word; it means men of the same stock, breed, or family (Matt. 12:45; 23:35, 36). So Jesus was predicting that the Jewish race would survive to see all these things accomplished. Their continued survival, despite atrocious persecution, is a miracle of history.

Mathew Henry’s commentary on this verse has this explanation: "But I think there is an added thought. In Jesus’ day, "this generation" was a race that steadfastly refused to acknowledge Him as Messiah. I think He was predicting that national Israel would continue in its Christ-rejecting condition till His Second Coming. Then all rebellion will be crushed, and only those who willingly submit to His rule will be spared to enter the Millennium."

My personal belief is that Matthew Henry has the best explanation: the generation that shall not pass away is the generation in whose lifetime all these signs occur and it is that generation that will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled. While some have attempted to relate "generation" to the race of the Jews, indicating that their race will survive until Christ’s return, this seems somewhat excessive to me. Some Bible scholars prefer "age" or "period of time." In other words, the previously listed signs will continue to multiply throughout the Church Age and reach their ultimate climax at the end of the age in the generation of those who will live to see the entire matter fulfilled in their lifetime. However, no one knows when Christ will return so that all may anticipate the imminent return of the Master. Those who object, and say that the "last days" began at Pentecost should also see II Timothy 3:1, where "last days" are yet to come (shall come) in the future. On the one hand, the final age began with the manifestation of the church and continues today. On the other hand, though, the final aspect of this age will be a last day of perilous times which will occur at the end of the age. Most Bible scholars agree that Matthew certainly understood Jesus to be saying that "all these things" referred to the end of history in the distant future.


35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

"Heaven and earth will pass away. To emphasize the unfailing character of His predictions, Jesus added that heaven and earth would pass away but His words would by no means pass away. Heaven and earth continue to this day, but they will not last forever ( Ps. 102:25, 26; [1]2 Pet. 3:10). In speaking of heaven passing away, He was referring to the stellar and atmospheric heavens—the blue firmament above us—not to that heaven which is the dwelling place of God (2 C. 12:2–4). The dissolution of the heaven and the earth is described in [2]2 Peter 3:10–13 and mentioned again in Revelation 20:11.

But My words will by no means pass away. The word of God can not be stopped or done away with, according to God’s edict. Note, The word of Christ is more sure and lasting than heaven and earth. Hath he spoken? And shall he not do it? We may build with more assurance upon the word of Christ than we can upon the pillars of heaven, or the strong foundations of the earth; for, when they cease to exist, the word of Christ shall remain, and be in full force. ([3]1 Pet. 1:24-25).

The accomplishment of these prophecies might seem to be delayed, and current events seem to disagree with them, but do not think that the word of Christ is fallen to the ground, for that will never happen. Although prophesy may not be fulfilled, either in the time or in the way that we want; they will happen in God’s time, which is the best time, and in God’s way, which is the best way. Every word of Christ is truth and therefore very sure.


36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven. As to the exact day and hour of His Second Advent (Second Coming), no one knows, not even the angels of heaven. This should be a warning against the temptation to set dates or to believe those who do (a warning unheeded by the Adventists in 1844, the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1916, and many others).

We should not be surprised that angels do not know; they are finite creatures with limited knowledge.

This generation, and many others, will pass, before that day and hour come. Note, There is a certain day and hour fixed for the judgment to come; it is called the day of the Lord, because the time is so unalterably fixed. None of God’s judgments are without the appointment of a certain day. That day and hour are a great secret that Heaven has wisely hid from human sight.

But My Father only. This is one of those secret things which belong to the Lord our God. The Father only knows the time of Christ’s return since it has been set by His authority ([4]Acts 1:7). The uncertainty of the time of Christ’s coming makes us watchful. Note, While those living prior to Christ’s return will not know its day or hour, it seems that those familiar with the prophecy may be able to know the year. They will know, for instance, that it will be approximately three and one-half years after the idol image is set up in the temple (Dan. 9:27; see also Dan. 7:25; 12:7, 11; Rev. 11:2, 3; 12:14; 13:5).


37 "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,
39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

But as the days of Noah were. We are given an assessment of the condition of humanity, during the days of Noah (and the Flood) which illustrates and foreshadows the condition of humanity at the time of Christ’s return. The last generation, like the one of Noah’s day, is pleasure-oriented and self-gratifying by eating and drinking. Is there anything wrong with eating and drinking? No, we are told that whatever we do--whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we are to do all to the Glory of God (1 C. 10:31). However, the people in Noah's day were not eating and drinking to the Glory of God. In fact, they were living as though God did not exist. Now, the days of Noah were characterized by gross immorality--"every thought and imagination of man's heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). The reference to marrying and giving in marriage may refer to carrying on the normal course of life without heeding the approaching judgment. However, the indication that there was indifference to God may even be stronger, in that Noah’s generation was judged as the result of the collapse of the godly line of Seth by spiritual intermarriage with the ungodly line of Cain’s descendants (see Gen 4–6 for the setting of the Flood story). The drastic destruction of the godly families of Noah’s day was due to a casual and indifferent attitude about whom one married or to whom he gave his children in marriage. Thus, Jesus’ warning is that the last generation will also be so pleasure-oriented that its families will collapse (a shocking observation in view of the current failure of the American family with one million new divorces every year!).

So also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Since our Lord is telling us how the world will be when He returns, we must expect these events, and prepare for them.

For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. They were sensual and worldly; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. It doesn’t say that they were killing and stealing, and going after prostitutes and swearing (it is true that some of the worst of them were; the earth was full of violence); but all of them, except Noah, were head over heals in the world, and had no regard for the word of God, and this ruined them. Note, Universal neglect of religion is more dangerous to any people than particular instances here and there of irreligious actions. Eating and drinking are necessary to the preservation of man’s life; marrying and giving in marriage are necessary to the preservation of mankind; but, these lawful things undo us, if they are unlawfully managed.

First, They were unreasonable in their pursuit of pleasure and wealth—they were eating; they were involved in these things as if they were in their element, as if they had no other reason to live than to eat and drink, ([5]Isa. 56:12).

Secondly, They were irrational in it; they were entirely intent upon the world and the flesh, when the destruction was at the door, even though they had been warned. They had received warnings, in the form of Noah’s preaching ([6]2 Pet. 2:5). But, they were eating and drinking, when they should have been repenting and praying. Through the ministry of Noah, God called them to weeping and mourning, and then would come joy and gladness. But they paid no mind to Noah, as Israel afterwards rejected the ministry of John and Jesus. This for them, as it was for Israel afterwards, was the unpardonable sin ([7]Isa. 22:12, 14), especially, because they lived in defiance of those warnings by which they should have been awakened. "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die; if it must be a short life, let it be a merry one.’’ The apostle James speaks of this as the general practice of the wealthy Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem; when they should have been weeping for the miseries that were coming upon them, they were living in pleasure ([8]Jas. 5:1, 5).

Until the day that Noah entered the ark. Does God hate sin? Yes, He does! He wiped out every person on earth because of sin, and then at a time appointed by Him, He sent His only begotten Son to the Cross because of sin. And this is hard for me to say, but He will send you to hell if you do not repent of your sin and accept Jesus as your personal Savior. Noah and his family were safe inside the ark, and you and I are safe when we are in Christ--He is our ark.

And did not know until the flood came and took them all away. Today, most people are indifferent toward God, just as in the days of Noah. Although the days before the flood were terribly wicked, that is not the feature emphasized here. The people ate, drank, married, gave in marriage; in other words, they went through the routines of life as if they were going to live forever. Though warned that a flood was coming, they lived as if they were flood-proof. When it came, they were unprepared, outside the only place of safety. That is just the way it will be when Christ returns. Only those who are in Christ, the ark of safety, will be delivered.

So also will the coming of the Son of Man be. It will be a surprise, as was the deluge that destroyed the old world. What is described here is the condition of the world at the coming of the Son of man. He came the first time to save, but the next time He will come to judge. He said, "For judgment I am come" (Jn. 9:39), and for judgment he will come; for all judgment is committed to him.

Israel has received temporal Judgments before. Although they had been given plenty of warnings, when it came they were found feeling secure and crying "peace and safety" (1 Th. 5:3). The siege was laid to Jerusalem by Titus Vespasian, when they were together for the Passover and enjoying the day. Note, Men’s unbelief will not make God’s threatening of no effect.

The eternal judgment approaches ([9]Heb. 6:2). Though we have been given notice of it, beginning with Enoch, yet, when it comes, very few will be looking for it. As we get closer to that day there will be scoffers, that say, "Where is the promise of his coming?" (2 Pt. 3:3, 4; Lu. 18:8). That is the way it will be when the world that now is shall be destroyed by fire; for that is the way it was when the old world was destroyed by flood (2 Pt. 3:6, 7).

40 "Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left.

41 "Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.

While everyone who has trusted Jesus Christ as Savior is going to heaven ([10]Jn. 3:16-18; 17:24), not every believer is ready to meet the Lord. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken away in judgment, the other will be left to enter the Millennium. Two women will be grinding at the mill; they will be instantly separated. One will be swept away by the flood of judgment; the other left to enjoy the blessings of Christ’s reign. Verses 40 and 41 are often used as a warning to the unsaved, in reference to the Rapture—the first phase of Christ’s coming when He takes all believers to heaven and leaves all unbelievers behind for judgment. While that might be a valid application of the passage, the context makes it clear that the interpretation has to do with Christ’s coming to reign-His Second Coming.

The reference to two being in the field or at work at the time of Christ’s return implies the suddenness of His coming to separate the lost and the saved. The one taken and the other left has been variously interpreted as one being taken in the Rapture and the other left to impending judgment, or as the taken one being taken to judgment and the one left being spared. I have my opinion about this and many will disagree, so I will address the disagreement from both sides. One thing that all will agree on is that it will be a separating day. There are two ways this may be applied.

(1.) We may apply it to the success of the gospel, especially when it was first preached; it divided the world; some believed the things which were spoken, and were taken to Christ; others believed not, and were left to perish in their unbelief. Those of the same age, place, capacity, employment, and condition, in the world, grinding in the same mill, those of the same family, those that were joined in the same bond of marriage, were called: one effectually called, the other passed by because of unbelief. This is that division, that separating fire, which Christ came to send, ([11]Lk. 12:49, 51).

(2.) We may apply it to the second coming of Jesus Christ, and the separation which will be made in that day. He had said before (v. 31), that the elect will be gathered together. Here he tells us, that, in order for that to happen, they will be distinguished from those who were nearest to them in this world; the chosen ones taken to glory, the other left to perish eternally. Those who sleep in the dust of the earth (the dead), even if there are two in the same grave with their ashes mixed together, shall arise, one to be taken to everlasting life, the other left to shame and everlasting contempt, Dan. 12:2.

It is also applied to them who will be found alive. Christ will come unexpectedly and will find people busy at their usual occupations, in the field, at the mill; and then they will be taken. If they are vessels of mercy prepared for glory, or vessels of wrath prepared for ruin, it will be with them accordingly; the one taken to meet the Lord and his angels in the air, to be with Him forever. The other will be left to the devil and his angels, who, when Christ has gathered out his own, will sweep up the residue. This will aggravate the condemnation of sinners that others shall be taken from the midst of them to glory, and they left behind.

This speaks of the abundance of comfort provided to the Lord’s people.

1.] Are they poor and despised by the world, like the farmer in the field, or the woman at the mill (Ex. 11:5)? Yet they shall not be forgotten or overlooked in that day. The poor of the world, if rich in faith, are heirs of the kingdom.

2.] Are they dispersed in distant and unlikely places, where one would not expect to find the heirs of glory, in the field, at the mill? Yet the angels will find them there, and bring them to Him; and what a very great change it will be to go to heaven from plowing and grinding.

3.] Are they weak, sick or without limbs and therefore unable to move themselves to heaven? They shall be taken, or laid hold of, as Lot was taken out of Sodom, Gen. 19:16. Those whom Christ has once apprehended and laid hold on, he will never lose his hold of.

4.] Are they intermixed with others, linked with them in the same habitations, societies, employments? Do not let that discourage any true Christian; God knows how to separate between the precious and the vile, the gold and dross in the same lump, the wheat and chaff on the same floor.

Jesus is teaching that every person in the world holds his life, natural abilities, wealth, and possessions in trust from God and must give an account of how these things are used.

Next is a general exhortation to us, to watch, and be ready when that day comes.

42 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.

In view of the uncertainty as to the day and the hour, men ought to watch. In fact, Christians have a duty to watch and be ready.

(1.) Watch. We must watch for our Lord’s coming to us at our death, after which is the judgment. That is a great day for us; it is the end of our time; and the beginning of our time with Him. When He comes to judge the world, it will be the end of all time.

To watch implies not only to believe that our Lord will come, but to desire that he would come, and to think of His coming often. To watch for Christ’s coming, is to maintain a Christ-like attitude, so that when He comes He will find us in that condition. To watch is to be aware of the first indications of his approach, and to act accordingly, so we are well prepared to meet Him.

(2.) Be ready. There are two reasons to induce us to be watchful and prepared for that day:

Because the time of our Lord’s coming is very uncertain.

That he may come when we least expect Him to. Although there is great uncertainty about the time, there is no uncertainty about His coming; we do not know when he will come, but we are sure he will come. His parting words were, "Surely I come quickly." This obliges us to always expect him, and it keeps us in a state of expectancy. He will come when we least expect Him, therefore many will be unprepared to meet Him. Watch and be ready.


43 "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

The children of this world are wise in the ways of the world. When they know of approaching danger, they will keep awake, and stand their guard against it. In this particular instance, the owner of a house found out that a thief was coming on a certain night. He even knew approximately when the thief was coming; it would be around midnight when he would be the sleepiest. Yet, the homeowner would be up, and listening to every noise, and ready to give him a warm reception.

Now, though we do not know just when our Lord will come, we do know some things about it. We know that he will come, and come quickly, and without any other warning other than what He has revealed in his word. It behooves us to always watch for Him. Note, First, Every one of us has a house to keep, and in it is everything of true value; that house is our own souls, which we must always protect. Secondly, The day of the Lord comes by surprise, as a thief in the night. Thirdly, If Christ finds us asleep and unready, when he comes, our house will be broken up, and we will lose all we are worth. It will not be stolen by a thief and it will not be unjust when it happens. But it will be taken from us, as if it was by a just and legal process. Death and judgment will seize hold of all we have, thus doing irreparable damage and causing our ruin. Therefore, be as ready, at all times as the good man that owned the house would be at the time he expected the thief. We must put on the armor of God, so that we will not only stand in that evil day, but, as more than conquerors, may have victory and divide the spoil.

This is called the Parable of the Two Servants. Christ gave it and had it included in His Word to illustrate the seriousness of Christ’s Second Coming, a fact which Jesus never allegorized or spiritualized, but spoke of in the most serious terms.


44 "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Certainly, we do not know when our Lord will come, and it is certain that no one knows the date they will die ([12]Gen. 27:2). We may know that we only have a little time to live (The time of my departure is at hand, 2 Tim. 4:6). But we cannot know that we have a long time to live, for our souls are continually in our hands; nor can we know how little a time we have to live, for it may prove to be less than we expect. Much less, we do not know the time God has chosen for the general judgment. God has elected not to reveal certain things to us, so that every day we may expect that He may come at any time.


45 "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?

Jesus continues to speak in parables; we call this one "The Parable of the Wise and the Evil Servants." The Lord Jesus shows that a servant shows his true character by how he behaves in view of his Master’s return. All servants are supposed to feed the household at the proper time. But not all who profess to be Christ’s servants are genuine.

The wise servant is the one who is found caring for God’s people. Such a one will be honored with vast responsibility in the kingdom. The master will make him ruler over all his goods.

Our Lord’s coming will be a very happy and comfortable occasion for those that He finds ready, but it will be very dismal and dreadful for those that are not. This is represented by the state of the two servants; one is good, the other is bad. It is likely to be well or severe for us throughout eternity, according to how we are found on that day, ready or unready; for Christ comes to render to every man according to his works. Now this parable, with which the chapter closes, is applicable to all Christians, who are professing to be God’s servants; but it seems especially intended as a warning to ministers; for the servant spoken of is a steward. Now let’s look at what Christ says here.

He says that the good servant is a ruler of the household; in that role he should be faithful and wise; furthermore, if he is faithful and wise he will be eternally-blessed. Here are some good instructions and encouragements for the ministers of Christ.

First, He has been made ruler over his household by the Lord, Himself, to minister the word of God to them. Note, The church of Christ is his household, or family, and he is the Father and Master of it. It is the household of God, a family named from Christ ([13]Eph. 3:15). Note, also, that Gospel ministers are appointed rulers in this household, but they are not to act like princes. They are to have the role of steward or a subordinate officer. They are not to act like lords, but as guides--they are not to prescribe new ways, but to show and lead in the ways that Christ has appointed. They are not to invent new ways to lead or new work to do, but as overseers they are to direct and hasten the work which Christ has ordered; that is the job of a minister. They are rulers by the authority of Christ; whatever power they have is derived from him. They are rulers under Christ, and act in subordination to him; and their work is the advancement of his kingdom. Their work is to give, not take to themselves (Eze. 34:8), but give to the family what the Master has bought, to dispense what Christ has purchased. The minister is to deliver meat, that is, those doctrines of the church which, if duly digested, will be nourishment to souls. It must be given in due season—while there is time for it. When eternity comes, it will be too late.

The good servant is a good steward for several reasons:

1. He is faithful. He is trusted, therefore he must be trustworthy, and the greater the trust is, the more is expected from him. A faithful minister of Jesus Christ is one that sincerely desires to honor his Master, not himself. He will deliver the whole word of God, and he will not be a respecter of persons.

2. He is wise and understands what his duty is, and when to perform it.

3. He is busy. The ministry is a good work, and ministers always have something to do.

4. He must be found busy doing his Master bidding when He comes; which intimates, first, that he is consistent; and secondly that he possesses perseverance. When Calvin was persuaded to retire from the ministry, he said, with some resentment, "What, would you have my Master find me idle?’’


46 "Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.

47 "Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.

He shall make him ruler over all his goods. The insinuation found here, is that the Master will reward the steward of his house who does well. He will be advanced over the other stewards to become the manager of the estate. Joseph is a good example of that, since he was made manager of Potiphar‘s estate, Gen. 29:4, 6. But the greatest honor which was ever given by the kindest master to the most worthy servants in this world, is nothing compared to what the Lord Jesus will do for his faithful servants in the world to come. What is said here, is the same that is said more plainly in John 11:26, "Him will my Father honor."


48 "But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’

49 "and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards,

This parable reflects the attitude of some people in that future day. They shall say, "Well, the Lord delays his coming--so I will just go on living carelessly. "When Christ returns He will judge that man.

There is a great principle here, which is applicable to every age. You and I ought to live our lives in the light of the fact that we are to stand in the presence of Christ. Note, that I didn't say in the light of the coming of Christ but in the light of the presence of Christ. Regardless of whether Christ comes a hundred years from today or in 8000 years, you and I will stand in His presence; whether you are saved or lost you will stand in his presence. If you are saved, you will have to give him an account of your live to receive a reward. If you are lost, you will stand there to be judged. Therefore, every person should live his live in light of the fact that he is to stand in the presence of the Lord. This is the great emphasis in the Olivet Discourse, therefore, it has applications to us, although the interpretation is specifically to folks living at the time of Christ's return as king.

By his actions, this evil servant shows his true colors. The foulest of men is a wicked man, even worst is a wicked Christian, and the worst of all is a wicked minister. Here in these two verses is, first of all, the cause of his wickedness, and secondly, the particulars of his wickedness.

1. The cause of his wickedness is disbelief in Christ’s second coming. He may say, "Lord, Lord" with his lips, but in his heart he believes that Christ has abandoned the church and will not return, as this wicked servant did. The delay of Christ’s coming, though is a sign of his love and patience. But when Christ’s coming is looked upon as doubtful, or a thing that may happen far into the future, the hearts of men are set upon doing evil, Eccl. 8:11. See Eze. 12:27.

2. The particulars of his wickedness. They are sins of the first magnitude; he is a slave to his passions and his appetites. He may not smite his fellow servants with his fists, but he does lord it over them and smite them with the tongue. The steward, when he smites his fellow servants, does it on the ground of his Master’s authority, and in his name; he says, Let the Lord be glorified" (Isa. 66:5); but he could not put a greater insult upon his Master.

The bad servant not only beats his fellow servants, but he goes on to eat and drink with drunkards. When he speaks he uses profanity and he participates in immorality. He associates with the worst of sinners, where he does like them; eats, and drinks, and is drunken. This is an inlet to all manner of sin. Drunkenness is a leading wickedness; those who are slaves to that, are never masters of themselves in any thing else.

The evil servant represents a nominal believer whose behavior is not affected by the prospect of his Master’s soon return. He is a servant in name only, for he flonts his lords instructions and assumes the rights of authority for himself. He begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards. Such behavior demonstrates that he is not ready for the kingdom. When the King comes, He will punish him and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites, where people weep and gnash their teeth.

What caused this servant’s downfall? Something went wrong in his heart: he ceased to expect his Lord to return. He lived like the world and mistreated his fellow servants. Whenever God's servants cannot work together, it is often because somebody has forgotten that the Lord will return. Looking for his appearing, and loving his appearing, should motivate us to be faithful and loving (1 Thess. 2:19-20; [14]1 John 2: 28).

This parable refers to Christ’s visible return to earth as Messiah-King. But the principle equally applies to the Rapture. Many who profess to be Christians show by their hostility toward God’s people and their fraternization with the ungodly that they are not looking for Christ’s Return. For them it will mean judgment and not blessing.

Christians will also be judged, but that will be at another place and at another time. Then, Christ will set on His judgment seat and judge his own people ([15]Rom. 14:10-12; 2 C. 5:8-11). He will not judge our sins, because these have already been judged on the cross ([16]Rom. 8: 1-4). But He will judge our works and will give rewards to those who have earned them ([17]1 C. 3:9-15).

50 "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,

51 "and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Lord of that evil servant will come. Note, Our putting off the thoughts of Christ’s coming will not put off his coming. Whatever illusion he deludes himself with, his Lord will come. The unbelief of man shall not make that great promise of no effect.

The coming of Christ will be a most dreadful surprise to careless sinners, especially to wicked ministers; He shall come in a day when they are not looking for Him. Note, Those that have ignored the warnings of the word, and silenced their own consciences concerning the judgment to come, cannot expect any other warnings. They will be judged to have been given, sufficient legal notice, whether taken or not; and no unfairness can be charged to Christ, if he comes suddenly, without giving any other notice.

Note, The severity of his doom. It is a doom that carries in it utter ruin, wrapped up in two dreadful words, death and damnation.

(1.) Death. His Lord shall cut him asunder, "he shall cut him off from the land of the living,’’ from the congregation of the righteous. Death cuts off a good man, as a choice branch is cut off to be grafted in a better tree; but it cuts off a wicked man, as a withered branch is cut off for the fire. Death cuts him off from this world, which he set his heart upon. Or, as the verse reads, will cut him in two, that is, the body and soul will be separated The body sent to the grave to be a food for worms, and the soul to hell to be a prey for devils. But the soul and body of a godly man are also parted at death, the one cheerfully lifted up to God, the other left to the dust. But, death is the king of terrors to a wicked man ([18]Job 18:14). The wicked servant divided himself between God and the world, Christ and Belial, his profession and his lusts, therefore, justice is served when he is divided.

(2.) Damnation. He will appoint him his portion with the hypocrites, and it will be a miserable portion, because there will be weeping. Note, There is a place in the world to come that is in a state of everlasting mystery, where there is nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth; there will be the souls that will suffer tribulation and anguish, under God's indignation and wrath.

The divine sentence will send men there who have been fitted for it by their own sin. Even those who called him Lord will be sent to this place of tribulation. Jesus who is now our Savior, will be the judge at that time, and they will have to go wherever he sends them. Those that choose the world for their portion in this life, will have hell for their portion in the other life. This is the portion that a wicked man will receive from God ([19]Job 20:29).

Hell is the proper place for the wicked to spend eternity. Note, When Christ would inflict the most severe punishment in the other world, he calls it the portion of hypocrites. If their is any place in hell hotter than any other place, and it is likely there is, it will be the place allotted for those who have a form of godliness, but hate the power of godliness (the hypocrite).

Wicked ministers that have their portion in the world, will suffer alongside the worst of sinners, even with the hypocrites, and it will be justice served, for they are the worst of hypocrites. The blood of Christ, which they have profaned, and the blood of men, whom they have by their lies, led to serve the god of this world, will bear hard upon them in that place of torment. Remember, a minister will hear those cutting words, " I never knew you" just as readily as any other sinner will. Therefore, those who preach to others should beware, unless they themselves should be cast-away.

_____________________________Special Notes________________________________

1 "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." The description of the judgment of that Day is given in the most vivid apocalyptic terms: weird noise (meaning a "rushing" and "sizzling" sound; destruction of all the elements by means of burning, and the leveling of all earthly constructions. The last of these descriptions is "both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up."#

2 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.#

3 because "All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.#

4 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.#

5 "Come," one says, "I will bring wine, And we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink; Tomorrow will be as today, And much more abundant."#

6 "And did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly." God destroyed the whole world by the flood, the great cataclysm, and saved only eight people. The word saved here means literally "guard" or "protect," and this is exactly what God did for Noah and his family #

7 And in that day the Lord God of hosts Called for weeping and for mourning, For baldness and for girding with sackcloth. Then it was revealed in my hearing by the Lord of hosts, "Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you, Even to your death," says the Lord God of hosts.#

8 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. #

9 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.#

10 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." The gospel in a nutshell. The love of God shown in action. (1) The source of love—God. (2) The extent of love—the world. (3) The sacrifice of love—He gave his only begotten Son. (4) The results of love—whosoever believeth in him should not perish. The Jews understood that the Messiah would come to condemn the Gentiles (Amos 5:18–20). Against this false teaching, Christ told Nicodemus that God’s plan was to save the world. Condemnation is reserved for the one that believeth not. There are only two kinds of people in the world: (1) those who have everlasting life as a result of faith in Christ; and (2) those who have not believed and as a result stand condemned already. They are already sentenced (condemned) and await only the execution of that sentence.#

11 "I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. Christ is the ultimate divider. What men decide regarding Christ determines their ultimate destiny, and also draws the barrier lines between men.#

12 Then he said, "Behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death. #

13 "from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." God has only one family. Some of the members are already in heaven, and others are here on earth representing and interpreting Christ to the world.#

14 "And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming." John’s exhortation is to the effect that they should continue to live in Christ, ignore the false teachers, and look forward to the second coming of Christ with joyous confidence.#

15 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.#

16 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.#

17 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.#

18 He is uprooted from the shelter of his tent, And they parade him before the king of terrors.#

19 This is the portion from God for a wicked man, The heritage appointed to him by God."#

 

 

Do you have any questions or comments?

 One college coed was overheard explaining her recent breakup. She said, “Yeah, I thought he was going to be my knight in shining armor, but he turned out to be just an idiot in a metal suit.”-Houston Chronicle, Sept. 27, 1996, p. 9D

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