Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4:13-16 (NKJV)
This was Paul’s DIRECT admonition to Timothy. Timothy was to save himself and his hearers from apostasy. How? By continuing in the Word. The faithful stewards that Paul spoke about are those who were involved in teaching the truth of Scripture.
Jesus as he approached the end the Olivet discourse as contained in Matthew 24 emphasized on the need for the disciples and those who would hear them to faithful to feed on His truth.
“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. – Matthew 24:45-51 (NKJV)
There is a contrast with the faithful and evil servant here. Notice that the evil slave says, “My master is delaying his coming.” This unfaithful servant fails to feed the household of God. Instead he begins to beat them, indulges his own appetite to extremes, eats and drinks with the drunken. When the master returns, he finds the man failing in his primary task, and he is destroyed. He is cut in two.
This has nothing to do with ministers today in that direct sense. Though our failure to feed the people His grace will cause confusion to reign in the house. This was a prophecy by Jesus to the early church leaders to stay on on course in order for them not to be swept away in that destruction to was ahead of them.
It is neither about unbelievers perishing in hell. This was a message for believers (in that first century) who are to watch for His coming. In Matthew 24, we know that the Lord is talking to His disciples. But notice what Luke adds:
“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. 40 “Therefore YOU also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour YOU do not expect. – Luke 12:39-41 (NKJV)
This was how Mark renders it.
“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!” – Mark 13:33-37 (NKJV)
The exhortation not to sleep was to be firm and steady ONLY in the grace of God. To be asleep was to lose consciousness of their identity and position in Christ. Being awake to the truth would be their deliverance from the wrath that was about to be poured out on that generation.
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 (KJV)
Paul here affirms the church’s identity and their position. They are children of light; and because of that they are to stay awake.
“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” – 1 Thessalonians 5: 6
The word “Therefore” connects the thought “because of who we are”. The word “sleep” here is katheudo and the word “watch” is gregoreuo as used by Paul are the same words that our Lord used in the parable of the unfaithful servant. It is believers who are not to sleep.
The need to be watchful for that first century paid off and not one Christian was found to have perished in that catastrophe that befell that nation in 70ad. Today there’s still a need for people to be awake on righteousness and feed on truth. This time being that it will make a whole lot of difference in the quality of life that people will experience. One of confusion or fulfillment.
Awake to righteousness and grace!