Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord has made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Who then is a faithful . . .?—Better, Who then is the faithful and wise servant? The latter word in the Greek is that which ethical writers had used to express the moral wisdom which adapts means to ends, as contrasted with the wisdom of pure contemplation on the one hand, or technical skill on the other.
To give them meat in due season.—Better, to give them their food. In the parallel passage of Luke 12:42, the word used means “a measure or fixed portion of meal or flour.” The comparison brings before us one function of the minister of Christ. He is to supply men with the spiritual food which they need for the sustenance of their higher life. It may be the “spiritual milk” of 1Peter 2:2, Hebrews 5:12, 1Corinthians 3:2; it may be the “strong meat” or “solid food.” There is an art, as it were, of spiritual dietetics, which requires tact and discernment as well as faithfulness. The wise servant will seek to discover not only the right kind of food, but the right season for giving it. An apparent parallel presents itself in the common interpretation of “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Timothy 2:15), but the imagery implied in that phrase is probably of an entirely different character. (See Note there.)Matthew 24:45-51. Who then is the faithful and wise servant — Which of you aspires after this character? Wise — Every moment retaining the clearest conviction that all he now has is only intrusted to him as a steward: Faithful — Thinking, speaking, and acting continually in a manner suitable to that conviction. Whom his lord hath made ruler over his household — This evidently chiefly concerns the ministers of the gospel. See notes on Luke 12:42, &c. Blessed is that servant, &c. — “You, the ministers of religion, ought to be peculiarly faithful in the discharge of your duty; for it is not an ordinary trust that is committed to your charge. You are stewards, whose business it is to take care of the whole family, and who, because of the influence which your example may have upon others, ought to be remarkably diligent. Your duty is to be well acquainted with the stores of evangelical truths, and to understand how they may be best applied. You should know likewise the various characters of the persons under your charge, that you may be able to give every one of them his portion of meat in due season. Verily, he shall make him ruler over all his goods — If when I come I find you thus employed, I will highly reward you with the glories and joys of my kingdom, even as an earthly master bestows particular marks of respect on such servants as have been remarkably faithful in any important trust.” But if that evil servant — Now become evil, having put away faith and a good conscience, shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth, &c. — “On the other hand, if you behave like wicked stewards, who, because their lord delays his coming, beat their fellow-servants and get drunk with sots and epicures; if you tyrannise over the consciences of your brethren, neglect the duties of your function, and give yourselves up to sensual pleasures, I will come when you little think of it, and will make you dreadful examples of my indignation, by the severe punishments which I will inflict upon you.” And shall cut him asunder — Tearing and cutting persons into several pieces, was one of the severest kinds of punishment anciently used, and is here put for the extreme misery that awaits the persons here described in the other world. And appoint him his portion with the hypocrites — The worst of sinners. If ministers are the persons here primarily intended, there is a peculiar propriety in the expression. For no hypocrisy can be baser than to call ourselves ministers of Christ while we are the slaves of avarice, ambition, or sensuality. Wherever such are found, may God reform them by his grace, or disarm them of that power and influence which they continually abuse to his dishonour, and to their own aggravated damnation!
Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant ... - By the conduct of a faithful and wise servant Jesus intends to denote a faithful Christian, a servant of God, or a teacher of religion.
Whom his lord - His master.
The word here has no reference to God. It means the "lord" or master of the servant. Applied to Christian teachers, in the spiritual meaning of the parable, it refers to "Christ," who has appointed them as teachers, and who is their Lord and Master, John 13:13-14.
Over his household - His family. Christian ministers are the servants of God appointed over the church, the family of Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 1 Corinthians 12:28.
Meat in due season - The word "meat" here means food of all kinds. When the Bible was translated into English, the word included, as the original does, all kinds of provisions requisite to support and nourish life.
In due season - As they need it, or in the accustomed times. This was the office of a steward. Among the ancients this office was often filled by a "slave" - one who had shown himself trusty and faithful. The duty was to have a general superintendence over the affairs of the family. Applied to Christian ministers, it means that they are to feed the flock of God, to "minister" to their needs, and to do it as they need it, John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2.
Mt 24:1-51. Christ's Prophecy of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and Warnings Suggested by It to Prepare for His Second Coming. ( = Mr 13:1-37; Lu 21:5-36).
For the exposition, see on Mr 13:1-37.See Poole on "Matthew 24:26". Luke 12:42, it is spoken in answer to a question of Peter's, in relation to the above exhortation, whether it was spoken to them, or to all; and by this answer, it looks as if it was more especially designed for them, though it may be applied to other. The "servant" is there called a "steward", for such a servant is meant; and a name that is very proper for the apostles and ministers of the word, who are stewards of the mysteries of Christ, and of the manifold grace of God; and whose characters are, that they are "faithful": for this is required in stewards, that they be faithful to the trust reposed in them; as ministers are, when they preach the pure Gospel of Christ, and the whole of it; conceal no part, nor keep anything of it; seek not to please men, but God; neither seek their own things, their ease, honour, and profit, but the glory of God, the honour of Christ, and the good of souls; and abide by the truths, cause, and interest of a Redeemer, at all hazards. And they are "wise", who know and are well instructed in divine things; who make Christ the main subject of their ministry; who improve their talents and time for their master's use, and the advantage of those that are under their care; who seek for, and deliver acceptable words and matter; and manage their whole trust, so as to be able to give in a good account of their stewardship another day. The post that such a person is put in, and the work he is to do, follow:
whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household; or "family", the church of God, which is the household of God, and of faith, in which are believers of various growths and sizes; some fathers, some young men, some children; and over these, the ministers are, by their Lord, made and placed as rulers; not as lords and tyrants over God's heritage, to govern them in an arbitrary way, but as over them in the Lord, to rule them according to the word of God, and the laws of his house; by preaching the Gospel, administering ordinances, and keeping up his worship and the discipline of the church; and whose principal business it is,
to give them meat in due season; even "their portion" of it, as in Luke 12:42, for the word of God is to be cut and rightly divided, and everyone in the family, according to his age, appetite, and digestion, is to have his proper part and portion given him: it must be meat, proper food, such as is solid, substantial, and nourishing; even the wholesome words of Christ Jesus, that must be given them, and not husks and empty trash; and all in due season, in its proper time, as their cases and circumstances require, and call for; as whether weary, or uncomfortable, or in the dark, or under temptations and afflictions: for a word fitly and seasonably spoken, how useful is it!Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Matthew 24:45 f. Τίς ἄρα, κ.τ.λ.] who therefore, considering the necessity for preparedness thus indicated. The inference itself is presented in the form of an allegory, the δοῦλος representing the disciples whom the Lord has appointed to be the guides of His church, in which they are required to show themselves faithful (1 Corinthians 4:1 f.) and prudent, the former by a disposition habitually determining their whole behaviour and characterized by devotion to the will of the Lord, the latter by the intelligent choice of ways and means, by taking proper advantage of circumstances, etc. The τίς is not equivalent to εἴ τις (Castalio, Grotius), which it never can be; but Matthew 24:45 asks: who then is the faithful slave? and Matthew 24:46 contains the answer; the latter, however, being so framed that instead of simply saying, in accordance with the terms of the question, “it is he, whom his lord, on his return,” etc., prominence is given to the blessedness of the servant here in view. According to Bengel, Fritzsche, Fleck, de Wette, our question touchingly conveys the idea of seeking for: quis tandem, etc., “hunc scire pervelim.” To this, however, there is the logical objection, that the relative clause of Matthew 24:45 would in that case have to be regarded as expressing the characteristic feature in the faithful and wise slave, whereas this feature is first mentioned in the relative clause of Matthew 24:46, which clause therefore must contain the answer to the question, τίς ἄρα ἐστὶν ὁ πιστὸς δ. κ. φρ.
οἰκετεία, domestic servants, Lucian, Merc. cond. 15; Strabo, xiv. p. 668. Comp. οἰκετία, Symmachus, Job 1:3; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 505.
οὕτως] thus, in accordance with duty assigned him in Matthew 24:45; the principal emphasis being on this word, it is put at the end of the sentence.Matthew 24:45. τίς, who, taken by Grotius, Kuinoel, Schott, etc. = εἴ τις, si quis, supposing a case. But, as Fritzsche points out, the article before π. δοῦλος is inconsistent with this sense.—πιστὸς, φρόνιμος: two indispensable qualities in an upper servant, trusty and judicious.—θεραπείας (T. R.), service = body of servants, οἰκετείας (B., W.H), household = domestics.
 Westcott and Hort.45. Who then is a faithful and wise servant] The steward was generally a slave whom his master had chosen on account of his trustworthiness and intelligence to be the steward of his estate, his villicus or dispensator. The word “dispensation,” in such expressions as “the present dispensation,” “the Christian dispensation,” has passed into religious language from this and the parallel passages.
his household] all his other slaves, Lat. familia.
to give them meat in due season] The daily (diarium) or monthly (menstruum) allowance; cp. “Cum servis urbana diaria rodere mavis?” Hor. Ep. i. 14. 41. This imagery, drawn from a large Roman estate (latifundium), has given rise to the often-recurring thought of the Stewardship of the Apostles and Ministers of Christ. “Stewards of the mysteries of God,” 1 Corinthians 4:1; “blameless, as the steward of God,” Titus 1:7.
45–51. The Stewards of God
Luke 12:41-48, where this parable is joined on to the preceding one by a question of St Peter, “Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?” Mark 13:37 has “what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Here, and throughout the discourse, the disciples are specially addressed.Matthew 24:45. Τίς ἄρα ἐστὶν, κ.τ.λ., who then is, etc.) Who is there who would wish to be such? The ἄρα (then) in Luke 12:42, refers to the question in the preceding verse; but here it expresses the magnitude and rarity of the matter.—πιστὸς καὶ φρόνιμος, faithful and prudent) Two cardinal virtues of a good servant, of which faithfulness (fides) is more frequently praised, because it is seated in the will, and has as its associate, prudence, given from above.—δοῦλος, servant) i.e. pastor. The article is emphatic.—θεραπείας, household) i.e. flock.—τοῦ διδόναι, to give) This refers to the epithet faithful. The opposite is exhibited in Matthew 24:49.—τὴν τροφὴν, their food) in just quality and measure; corresponding with the expression τὸ σιτομέτριον (their portion of meat) in Luke 12:42.—ἐν καιρῷ, in due season) This refers to the epithet prudent.
 Prudence is the characteristic of those who do not live from day to day (i.e. making no preparation for the morrow), but who so behave themselves as they would wish that they had behaved themselves when, sooner or later, their Lord shall come.—V. g.
 The Greek is “ὁ πιστὸς δοῦλος καὶ φρόνιμος;” lit.” THE faithful servant and prudent;” rendered in E. V. “A faithful and wise servant.—(I. B.)
 So D and Rec. Text. But BLΔ, οἰκετείας. abcd Vulg. Hil., ‘familiam.’—ED.
 i.e. Faithful in respect of giving.—ED.Verse 45. - Who then (τίς ἄρα;)? In Luke 12:41, etc, Christ utters this parabolic discourse in reply to Peter's question, "Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?" He now turns his exhortation to those in authority over the house, specially to the ministers and stewards of his mysteries, proposing it in an interrogative form, not only because the man he wants is difficult to find, but in order that each may put the question to himself, and see if he reaches the high standard suggested. Is a (ὁ, the) faithful and wise (φρόνιμος, prudens, practically wise) servant. The idea is that some good and true slave is raised to the stewardship of his master's household, like Eliezer whom Abram advanced to this position (Genesis 15:2). Hath made ruler (κατέστησεν, hath set) over his household (ἐπὶ τῆς θεραπείας αὐτοῦ, see on ver. 47). The word θεραπεία is used classically for a body of attendants, the servants that form the family, the menage. Christ asks - Where is one to be found fit for this position in his Church? It is the Lord who selects and appoints the steward; he is neither self-constituted nor appointed by those over whom he rules. To give them meat (τὴν τροφὴν, their food) in due season. It was the duty of such an officer to dispense the regular allowance of daily food to the members of the household. So the stewards of the mysteries of Christ have to feed his flock with spiritual food, with the Word and sacraments, and. to do this wisely and discreetly, according to the capacity, advancement, and circumstances of each recipient. The exhortation holds good for others as well as the clergy, civil rulers, the rich, all men. All our endowments, mental, spiritual, physical, material, are the gift of God, and are to be used in his service and to the good of others.
At the regular hours which his Lord observes when at home; and not delaying because he thinks that his Lord delayeth his coming (Matthew 24:48), but doing his duty in its appointed time.
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