"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:45-51)
What is the 'hour he is not aware of'?The time of death in this parable is the "hour he is not aware of." The death of our body comes as a surprise to each of us. No one knows the time of death, even Jesus, as he confirmed with this statement earlier in this discussion:
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the Father." (Matt. 24:36)Jesus is talking about an inevitable event that he knows will occur for each person: The moment of death. Every body dies. Every one of us must leave our temporary physical body at some point. But only the Supreme Being knows the precise moment ahead of time of our departure from this body.
Why did Jesus compare the servants?Jesus goes further in this parable, in comparing the fates of "a faithful and wise servant" and the servant who is "wicked" and "begins to beat his fellow servants."
So why is Jesus comparing these two types of servants?
Because we are all servants. Each of us - whether we choose to serve the Supreme Being or serve our senses, family and/or country - are servants. This is our natural position: The Supreme Being is Master and we are His servants.
Yet our role is to serve out of love, and love requires freedom: He thus gave us the freedom to serve Him or not.
Jesus' parable is an apt analogy because choosing to serve God naturally begins the process of re-establishing our loving relationship with Him. This is because in order to serve someone, we have to learn what pleases them.
This establishing of a relationship with the Supreme Being is represented in Jesus' parable by the master putting the responsible servant in charge.
It is not as if Jesus was teaching that we should serve God so He will put us in charge of His stuff and of others. We must look deeper. A master who puts his servant in charge of his possessions does this because he is trusting the servant. Such trust requires a relationship.
Who is the 'faithful and wise servant'?In Jesus' analogy, the wise servant simply makes a choice to be obedient to his master. After some time of doing what pleases the master, the master begins to trust the servant. Here again, the servant is making the choice to do what pleases the master, and this choice - and the actions that represent it - creates trust.
The wicked servant also makes a choice. He chooses to ignore the wishes of his master. He beats the other servants and gets drunk when the master is away. In the same way, each of us can choose to ignore the Supreme Being and go about trying to find self-centered pleasure in the physical world - often at the expense of others. Worse are those who knowingly harm others.
Where is the 'place with the hypocrites'?Where is this place that Jesus compares to "a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth"? Is this hell? Many interpreters agree that Jesus is describing hell.
But where is hell? Is hell some dungeon deep beneath the earth's surface where people are chained up and beaten by a horned red devil - causing them to weep and gnash their teeth? If so, why haven't we found this place as we've drilled miles into the crust of the earth then?
And why - when these people die - do their bodies remain within their graves, decomposing? If they were sent to the dungeon underground the bodies would not be rotting in their graves would they?
Scientifically speaking, we are not these physical bodies. Our physical bodies will die at some point. Science has proven that the self (or spirit) rises from the body at the time of death, looking down upon the body before departing.
We are spirit-persons who dwell within these temporary physical bodies. And when these bodies die, we leave them behind. Where do we go?
What does 'gnashing and weeping' mean?The word "gnashing" comes from the Greek word βρυγμός (brygmos) which means, according to the lexicon, "used to denote extreme anguish and utter despair."
And this also fits with the word "weeping," as those who are in extreme anguish and utter despair often also weep.
Where do people weep and have extreme anguish and utter despair? We can see this all around us. We can turn on the news on any day of the week and see people weeping and in extreme anguish and utter despair.
Yes, right here, in the physical world, we find weeping and utter despair. While it may not affect each of us at the same time and in the same way, each of us will have a good measure of weeping and utter despair at some point in our lives.
For those in the West, there might appear to be less physical despair, but there is still despair and anguish - due to loneliness and emptiness. Among those in poorer countries, we find utter physical despair and extreme anguish.
And even among those who live comfortably, there is still despair, pain, disease, and death to contend with, along with broken relationships and heartaches. Yes, there are certainly different levels - but the lessons of this physical world are often taught through despair, pain, and anguish.
In other words, hell is in the physical world, although some environments and species within the physical world undergo worse hell than others.
Why does Jesus and other teachers teach that hell is a place we can go after death then? This is because Jesus and others from his lineage all taught transmigration: If we do not return to the spiritual world at the death of this body, we assume another physical body. And with this physical body, we suffer the consequences of our prior activities. Jesus and his disciples confirmed this when they asked him why a man had been born blind:
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2)This very question assumes that both Jesus and his disciples accepted that a person could sin prior to being born. In order to sin, the person must have the facility to sin: a physical body.
We also find that many early church teachers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen Adamantius and St. Augustine all assumed transmigration in their teachings. Several centuries later, after Christianity became dominated by the Romans and its surrogate the Roman Catholic Church, the teaching was banned because having another chance within another lifetime wasn't as severe a threat.
And therein lies the answer to where hell is. How we live during the lifetime of this body determines where we go at the time of death - as Jesus indicates in this parable. Should a person hurt others and live selfishly, we will take on another body - one that precisely experiences (both good and bad) the consequences of the activities of our current lifetime.
Why is there suffering?This answers the oft-asked question: If God exists, why is there so much suffering? Why are some children born in poverty or with diseases?
There is so much suffering because some of us choose to hurt others and cause pain. We cause suffering. The physical world is simply a place of consequence - meant to teach us and help us rehabilitate from our disease of self-centeredness. Those who cause pain to others simply receive that same pain in kind.
The same goes for pleasure or good fortune. In other words, whatever situation we find ourselves in is due to the consequences of prior activities. And those born in a situation of suffering caused others suffering in their previous lifetime(s).
Transmigration and suffering, however, must be understood within the context of who we are and what is our identity. The bodies we wear are simply vehicles. They are not us. The body we wear changes from a baby body to a teenage body to an adult body to an elderly body and then dies. We remain the same person despite this changing body.
The body is like a car - we sit down in it and drive it for a while, and then get out and get another car. It is not actually us. Therefore, the pains and pleasures that take place in the body are not happening to us, much as a dented fender on a car doesn't necessarily affect the driver. Yes, the person within is affected by what we learn during our occupation of a physical body. But we exist outside of the body before it is born and after it dies.
The culmination of learning is when we decide to return home to our relationship with the Supreme Being. Those who use their lives to re-develop their loving relationship with God meet a different fate at the time of death. They leave this hellish physical world and return to God in the spiritual realm.
And even when they are living within the body - if they are lovingly serving the Supreme Being - they are ex-facto within the spiritual realm. This is why Jesus gave a clear instruction:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)
Is God a person?How can we love an impersonal force? The word religion comes from the Latin word ligare, which means “that which binds.” In order to "bind" oneself to God, we must establish a relationship (or bond) with Him.
How can we bond with a vague impersonal force? Bonding with someone requires there to be someone to bond with. Bonding with God - being religious - requires us to establish a relationship with God.
This also means those who see the Supreme Being as an impersonal force are not actually religious: They are simply executing rituals in return for some reward - their activity is done in exchange for not going to hell.
This is business. It is not a relationship.
Just consider if we pretended to be friends with someone only so they could get us into a concert. Should they find out we were only trying to get into the concert, they'd feel pretty offended, yes?
Besides, who is it that is going to save us? A vague impersonal force who becomes a man and gets crucified? This is ridiculous. God does not need to become crucified to save us.
God is a person, and He can save whomever he wants at any time. But it is us who choose whether we become saved or not. We are the ones who are choosing whether we want to re-establish our loving relationship with God. God loves us unconditionally and wants each of us to come home to Him.
We are the ones who are choosing to stay away from Him.