Last Updated on : November 23, 2014

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The Parable Of The Man
On A Far Journey
(Matt. 24:42; Mark 13:34-37)
By Pearce Mansfield, Story of the Bible, Vol. 11



The Lord continued his discussion based upon the Olivet prophecy, by exhorting the Apostles to watchfulness, and in order to give point to his words, he delivered unto them the parable of a man who left on a far journey, leaving his affairs in the care of his servants. Though Matthew introduces the subject of watchfulness, he does not record the parable of the Lord, and we must turn to Mark's record to obtain it.

Need for Watchfulness

"Watch therefore," continued the Lord, 'for you do not know what hour your Lord will come!"


The word in the Greek is significant. It is gregoreo, and it means not merely to keep a look out, but rather to keep awake and thus alert. It is used in relation to the signs of the times (Matt. 25:13; Mark 13:34; Luke 12:37), to the need for sound doctrine (Acts 20:31), to the need for personal vigilance (1 Cor. 16:13) in regard to prayer (Col. 4:2), in the matter of conduct (1 Thess. 5:6), in relation to the world's influence (1 Pet. 5:8), and concerning Ecclesial trends (Rev. 3:2, 3).

It is so easy to figuratively fall asleep, so that we are not "awake" to what is going on about us. Such influences as the pursuit of riches, the engrossments of the world, the seeking for pleasure, can cause us to become drowsy and sleepy to the requirements of God.

Christ warned that his disciples must keep awake, because, as in the days of Noah, they do not know the hour when the crisis will come. When it develops, there will be no time for additional preparation.

Mark records (Ch. 13:34-37) that the Lord added a parable at this moment.

He told how that a man went on a far journey, leaving his house to the care of his servants. Each man was given his particular duty, even as each disciple has his particular sphere of labor in Christ's service (see 1 Coc. 12:15-31; Eph. 4:11-12), and the porter was placed in charge of it all, with a command to supervise the work done.

Addressing the Apostles with him, the Lord gave them specific instructions:

"Watch ye therefore: for you do not know when the master of the house will come: at even (6 p.m.), or at midnight (12 p.m.), or at the cock. crowing (3 a.m.), or in the morning (6 a.m.); lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping."


It seems as though the Lord was making reference to the practice of an official called the Captain of the Temple, whose duty it was to make the rounds of the Temple to ensure that the Temple guard were awake. On his approach, the guards had to rise and address him in a particular manner. Any guard found asleep when on duty was beaten, or his garments were set on fire.

The Lord was about to ascend to the Father, and deliver the charge of the Ecclesia into the care of the Apostles. Two outstanding crises faced believers: the destruction of the Jewish State in A.D. 70 which is called a "coming" or parousia of the Lord because he would supervise the judgment, and the overthrow of the Gentile system of things today impending.

In his Olivet prophecy, Christ had indicated signs that would herald the approach of both, but whilst we can interpret these and see in their fulfilment an indication of his coming, we do not know the exact time of his imminent return, any more than did the Apostles know the exact time of the destruction of the Jewish State in A.D. 70 until it occurred (cp. Matt. 24:6).

They had to be on their guard and warn the Ecclesia, as we must be on our guard today, and heed the message that they left on record for these times.

In that sense, the Apostles constitute the porter of this parable. They performed their work faithfully, and left on record teaching and exhortation for our guidance, which, if we heed will keep us awake concerning the signs of Christ's return.

After the Apostles died, the responsibility to heed this instruction rested upon the disciples of the Lord as a whole, and therefore does so, on believers today.

Those exhortations can be summed up in the words of Paul:

"Let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch (keep awake) and be sober" (1 Thess. 5:6).


Therefore, the Lord concluded with the exhortation:

"And what I say unto you (Apostles), I say unto all (disciples). Watch!


Let us "keep awake" as the Lord exhorted, particularly as we see signs that clearly testify that his coming is near at hand.

The Parable of the Man on a Far Journey has been greatly expounded in another article:
The Mosaic Calendar From the Return of the Lord to the Millennium