Faithful and Discreet Slave

“Let a man so appraise us as being subordinates of Christ and stewards of sacred secrets of God. Besides, in this case, what is looked for in stewards is for a man to be found faithful… Hence do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring the secret things of darkness to light and make the counsels of the hearts manifest, and then each one will have his praise come to him from God.” — 1 Corinthians 4:1,2,5

Peter asked: “Lord, are you saying this illustration to us or also to all?” And the Lord said: “Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time Happy is that slave, if his master on arriving finds him doing so! I tell you truthfully, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” — Luke 12:41-43

“I became a minister of this [congregation] in accordance with the stewardship from God which was given me in your interest to preach the word of God fully, the sacred secret that was hidden from the past systems of things and from the past generations. But now it has been made manifest to his holy ones, to whom God has been pleased to make known what are the glorious riches of this sacred secret among the nations.—It is Christ in union with you, the hope of [his] glory.—He is the one we are publicizing, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in union with Christ. To this end I am indeed working hard, exerting myself in accordance with the operation of him and which is at work in me with power.” — Colossians 1:25-29

“But the end of all things has drawn close. Be sound in mind, therefore, and be vigilant with a view to prayers. Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. In proportion as each one has received a gift, use it in ministering to one another as fine stewards of God’s undeserved kindness expressed in various ways. If anyone speaks, [let him speak] as it were [the] sacred pronouncements of God; if anyone ministers, [let him minister] as dependent on the strength that God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. The glory and the might are his forever and ever. Amen.” — 1 Peter 4:7-11

Modern day Jehovah’s Witnesses, until the October 2012 Annual Service Meeting of the Watchtower, believed the faithful and discreet slave to be defined as follows (emphasis added):

They “Keep Following the Lamb”

What can be said about the anointed Christians in modern times? In his prophecy about “the sign of [his] presence and of the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus referred to the composite body of his spirit-anointed followers on earth as “the faithful and discreet slave,” or “the faithful steward.” (Matt. 24:3, 45; Luke 12:42) … [Note: after Jesus gave his prophecy referred to above, he then related several parables or illustrations regarding the need to “keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely the Son of man is coming.”” (Luke 12:41)]

Jesus has appointed the faithful and discreet slave “over his domestics,” that is, the individual members of the slave class, “to give them their food at the proper time.” He has also appointed the slave “over all his belongings.” (Matt. 24:45-47) These “belongings” include the growing “great crowd” of “other sheep.” (Rev. 7:9; John 10:16) Should not individual members of the anointed and the “other sheep” trust the slave appointed over them? There are many reasons why the slave class deserves our trust. Two outstanding reasons are: (1) Jehovah trusts the slave class. (2) Jesus also trusts the slave. — w09 2/15 pp. 24-28

A “Slave” Who Is Both Faithful and Discreet

Jesus himself pointed to the answer to that question. In the course of his great prophecy, he asked: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time?” Then he said: “Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.” (Matthew 24:45-47) Yes, there would be a “slave” who had been assigned to provide spiritual food, a “slave” who would be both faithful and discreet. Was that slave a particular individual, a succession of individuals, or something else? …

An Individual or a Class?

“The faithful and discreet slave” cannot be one person. Why not? Because the slave began serving spiritual food back in the first century, and according to Jesus, the slave would still be doing so when the Master arrived in 1914. That would represent some 1,900 years of faithful service for one individual. Not even Methuselah lived that long!—Genesis 5:27.

Well, might the term “faithful and discreet slave” apply in a general sense to each individual Christian? It is true that all Christians must be faithful and discreet; however, Jesus clearly had something more in mind when he spoke of “the faithful and discreet slave.” How do we know that? Because he said that the “master on arriving” would appoint the slave “over all his belongings.” How could each individual Christian be placed over everything—over “all” of the Lord’s belongings? Impossible!

The only reasonable conclusion, then, is that Jesus was referring to a group of Christians as “the faithful and discreet slave.” Can there be such a thing as a composite slave? Yes. Seven hundred years before Christ, Jehovah referred to the entire nation of Israel as “my witnesses” and “my servant whom I have chosen.” (Isaiah 43:10) Every member of the nation of Israel from 1513 B.C.E., when the Mosaic Law was given, down to Pentecost 33 C.E. was part of this servant class. Most Israelites did not have a direct share in administering the nation’s affairs or in coordinating its spiritual feeding program. Jehovah used the kings, judges, prophets, priests, and Levites to carry out those tasks. Still, as a nation, Israel was to represent Jehovah’s sovereignty and tell his praises among the nations. Each Israelite was to be a witness of Jehovah.—Deuteronomy 26:19; Isaiah 43:21; Malachi 2:7; Romans 3:1, 2. — w04 3/1 pp. 8-12

‘The Faithful Slave’ Passes the Test!

At Pentecost 33 C.E., Jesus appointed a “slave” to provide food at the proper time for his “domestics.” In 1914, Jesus was enthroned as King, and soon it was time to inspect that “slave.” For the most part, he found that the “slave” had proved itself “faithful and discreet.” Hence, he appointed it “over all his belongings.” (Matthew 24:45-47) — w04 3/1 pp. 13-18

The Faithful Steward and Its Governing Body

Whether we are “domestics,” who are part of the anointed remnant, or we are members of the great crowd, let it be our determination to cooperate fully with the faithful steward and its Governing Body. May each of us “keep on the watch” and prove ourselves faithful until the end.—Matt. 24:13, 42. — w09 6/15 pp. 20-24

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