Parables are extended metaphors. The New Testament tells that Jesus Christ often used parables to teach his followers. The parable of the faithful servant can be found in three of the four gospels -- Matthew 24:42-51, Mark 13:34-37 and Luke 12:35-38. Some of the sayings in the parable can also be found in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, a book which most Christians do not accept as scriptural.

The Parable in a Nutshell

A homeowner leaves his possessions in the care of his servants and goes away, not telling them when he will return. In each version of the parable, the servants are all given tasks to perform while their master is away. Jesus teaches that when the master returns, those who have been watching for their master's return and have been doing what he told them to do will be blessed and given greater trust. Those who have not will be punished if the master returns to find them neglecting their duties.

What It Means

Most theologians agree that this parable is designed to encourage believers to live as God wants them to live and to wait expectantly for Christ's return. In Matthew's version, one servant is also put in charge of the other servants and is given dire warnings of what will happen if the master finds that he has mistreated his fellow servants.