Watching
Is it Faithful Service or is it Date Setting?
 
By Dr. Ken Matto
 
(Luke 12:37 KJV) Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
 
With many people involved in date setting, a subject within this movement has arisen. That subject is the understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning watching. The question is concerning the meaning of watching. Is it setting a date for the Lord’s return or is it continued faithful service until the Lord returns? We are going to look at the words watch, watching, and occupy in relation to the Lord’s return and we will look at these verses in context and not pulled out of context.
 
Let me use an analogy of watching versus the dormant date setter.
 
In the work place, you have 2 kinds of employees, one is the type who continues to do their job while the boss is not looking, they are the faithful ones who do what they are getting paid to do so the company prospers. The second kind of employee is the lazy one who does as little as possible and keeps watching out for the boss so he does not get caught. One watches by faithfulness and one watches by sight.
 
So are those who are date setters, they do nothing to send forth the true gospel because all they are doing is watching for the Lord's return in the form of dates. The one who is truly watching is the one who continues to be faithful so when the Lord returns they will be able to present Him with fruit, maybe 30, 60, or 100 fold. Being faithful in anticipation of the Lord's return is the biblical norm for the Christian life. Date setters are like people who are stuck in quicksand, they never get beyond looking for a date and Satan has them stuck in the quicksand because their own pride will never allow them to admit they are going against the biblical lifestyle for the Christian. So they go in circles trying to find a day, hour, minute, and second of Christ's return and in the meanwhile, their Christian lives are empty shells because there is no growth nor outreach and all they do is create division in the body of Christ by trying to divert other Christians into that useless venture. Diversion is a great tool of Satan and he does not have to change tactics because it works so well. Look how many have been diverted from sending forth the true Gospel to date setting, which has a track record of being 100% wrong whereas the true biblical teachings have a track record of being 100% right. Should Christians invest their lives in 100% loss and error or should they invest them in 100% truth and gain? That's something to think about!
 
Occupy
(Luke 19:13 KJV) And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
 
Luke 19:13 is part of a parable concerning the Lord Jesus Christ who will be going back to Heaven and will return someday. He speaks about a nobleman going to a far country and while he was gone he doled out 10 pounds, 1 pound to each servant. On his return he demanded an account of his money. One servant had gained 10 pounds with the one pound and was given rule over ten cities. Another servant gained 5 pounds from the 1 pound and as given rule over 5 cities. Another servant came forward and gave the nobleman his pound back which he had wrapped up in a blanket. This servant did not occupy and do business so he yielded no fruit. His punishment was to be executed with the wicked servants. The word “occupy” in the Greek is “pragmateuomai” and it carries with it the meaning of “trade, do business, or occupy.” It is also a cognate of the Greek verb “prassô” which means “to do, accomplish, or act.” If you notice the one who did not occupy or do business was the one who was called a wicked servant, which meant that he was unsaved. The wicked servant is like many Christians who own a Bible and do nothing with it except take it to church.
 
They are, in essence, burying the pound. The word “pragmateuomai” is in the Imperative Mood which means Jesus is giving a command to the believers to carry out the Great Commission until He returns on the last day. Those believers who carry out the Great Commission as best as they can and bear fruit, are commended by the Lord Jesus Christ for obeying His command. Those believers who have stopped obeying the Great Commission and have turned to date setting, which bears no fruit, are in direct disobedience to the Lord’s command detailed in this parable. Can anyone in direct disobedience to the Lord’s command expect to be given preferential Heavenly secrets such as the exact date of Christ’s return? The answer is no because all they can expect, being in disobedience, is delusion and diversion from truth. This is why every date setter in history has been wrong and why everyone who attempts it will be wrong.
 
Watching
(Luke 12:37 KJV) Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
 
Luke 12:37 is the only place in the New Testament which uses the word “watching” in reference to the second coming of Christ. The Greek word behind “watching” is “gręgoreô” which carries with it the meaning of “be alert, be vigilant, be or stay awake.” The Lord is stating that the servants will be blessed when the Lord returns finding them watching. The key to understanding “watching” is found in Luke 19:13, where the master of the house told his servants to occupy till he returns. Those who continued to do business, were rewarded and those who did no business but became slothful were condemned.
 
In Luke 12:37, we read that these servants were to be rewarded by sitting at the Master’s table. When a master has servants, they are expected to work and to produce for whatever they have been assigned to. These servants are not sitting around trying to figure out the day the Lord will come back but they are being rewarded because when the Lord returned to his estate, he found them watching, that is, they were being vigilant in their work because they were commanded to occupy or do business until the Lord returned. If you notice when the Lord returns in Luke 12:37, the servants will be blessed because they will be found faithful in their duties.
 
(Luke 12:38 KJV) And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
 
Let us look at the next verse and see the situation of the servants. The master could come in any watch of the day which is what is in view in Luke 12:38. How then is the servant to be ready for the return of the master? He is to be faithfully engaged in the occupation he has been gifted to do and in this way, his production or fruit will show that he is prepared for the master’s return. The key here is that the servant is prepared for his master’s return by means of being faithfully employed to his tasks. If he is faithfully employed, he is anticipating his master’s return and thereby he will be ready for his arrival.
 
Watch
Now we are going to look at verses which use the word watch. Unless specified, the Greek word behind “watch” will be the same as the one behind “watching,” “gręgoreô.” We will look at those verses which deal with the return of Christ and see if we find any commands to set dates. Luke 12:37 was found to be in the context of servants faithfully executing their duties in anticipation of their Lord’s return. Let us see if we find anything different in the following verses.
 
Matthew 24:40-46
(Mat 24:40-42 KJV) Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. {41} Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. {42} Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
 
Now we see in the context of verses 40-42 that when the Lord returns he will find his servants in the field and in the mill and they will be working. If you notice, in both of these scenarios, the ones that were taken were working right up to the time the Lord took them. There was no work hiatus nor were they sitting around trying to figure out when the Lord would return. They were taken while they were at work. Here we see again these people were busy right until the moment the Lord came.
 
(Mat 24:43-46 KJV) But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. {44} Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. {45} Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? {46} Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
 
In verse 43 we see a scenario concerning a thief. The goodman of the house would be the owner or the master of the family. If he had prior knowledge that a thief was going to break in at a certain time, he would have been able to prevent it. How does one prevent a thief from breaking in? You prevent a break in by means of preparation. You make sure the doors are locked, the windows are sealed, and that everything is secure. Even if you know what watch the thief comes in, you will not know the exact time within that three hour time frame and that is why precautionary measures must be taken to prevent the break in. Then in verse 44, we are given confirmation concerning the way we prevent a break in. Just as the goodman of the house is to be ready, so are we to be ready for we do not know when the Son of man will return, so then how does one prepare for the return of Christ? The primary way is that one must be saved and the moment they are saved, they are ready for Heaven.
 
Let us look at verses 45 & 46. We now look back at the ruler who has gone on a far journey. If you will notice that the Lord of the household made a servant ruler over the house. Why was he made ruler? In verse 45 we read that he was a faithful and wise servant as he would dole out the portions of food and provisions to the family. In verse 46, we read that the servant who is faithfully executing their duties, will be blessed when the Lord returns. Here again we looked at some verses on watching and they had nothing whatsoever to do with date setting but only with faithful stewardship. (1 Cor 4:2 KJV) Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
 
Matthew 25:13-15
(Mat 25:13-15 KJV) Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. {14} For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. {15} And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
In Matthew 25:13, we are told to watch because we do not know the day nor the hour that the Lord will return. Now let us look at these verses and see if watching is connected with date setting or faithful service? In verse 14, we see the statement begins with the word “for” and in the Greek it is the word “gar” and is a common conjunction which is used to signify a reason or cause for the previous statement, which would be verse 13. Now Jesus goes into His narrative about a man travelling on the far journey, of course, the man is Jesus who went back to Heaven. He then speaks of the man doling out funds to the servants according to their abilities and talents. Now here we see the scenario of the servants, they are to occupy or do business until he returns. Here again we see that watching is connected with faithful stewardship because when the man returned he reckoned with the servants concerning what they did with what they were given. (Mat 25:19 KJV) After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. So here we see that watching is definitely connected with faithfulness in the Lord’s business and not date setting.
 
Mark 13:33-37
(Mark 13:33-37 KJV) Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. {34} For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. {35} Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: {36} Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. {37} And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
 
In verse 33, Jesus is speaking to the Apostles and is commanding them to watch and pray. The word in the Greek for watch in verse 33 is, “agrupneô ” which is a synonym of “gregôreô” and means “be on the alert, to be vigilant, or keep oneself awake.” In connection with watching, Jesus is telling them they are to pray. The word “watch” is in the Imperative Mood which makes it a command. The believer is commanded to be alert and to pray. Why? Jesus goes on to say that they do not know when the time is and this is why believers are to remain vigilant. Now in verse 34, Jesus begins with a conjunction because He is continuing the reason that believers are to watch and pray. He is likening Himself to a man who goes on a far journey and we have previously seen that the far journey is the time between His ascension and His return. First of all, Christ gives authority to His servants the believers and they have the authority to speak in His name and to bring the true Gospel which has authority over people because it is the Word of God. Secondly, He doles out work to every man and that is done by means of the distribution of the spiritual gifts when a person becomes saved. The spiritual gifts qualify a Christian to work in a certain area of ministry. So up to this point we are still in harmony with all the meanings of watching and how they are all connected to faithful stewardship and not date setting.
 
Then the doorkeeper or the porter is commanded to watch. What is he watching for? In verse 35 he is watching for the return of the Master. In the mean time, he is also watching out for the enemies which may come and try to plunder the house and steal all the goods and the servants. He is the first line of warning against any type of trouble. In the book of First Chronicles in chapter 9, there were 212 porters in the temple duty and they were Levites who had charge of the various entrances. Their main job was to guard the temple so no unclean person would be able to come in and defile it. So back to Mark 13:34, we see that the porter, who was specifically commanded to watch, was doing so as a faithful servant engaged in his duties which was given to him by his Master.
 
(John 10:1-3 KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. {2} But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. {3} To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
 
The porter in John 10 only opens the door of the sheepfold when he hears and recognized the true shepherd of the sheep. Now the porter can be considered every true believer because only they will recognize the true voice of the Shepherd and will not allow any false teachings to take root in themselves and this will prevent any infection of the other sheep with false gospels. So the porter represents every true believer who disallows false teachings and allows only the entrance of true teachings of Scripture. False teachings will not be allowed in and will be stopped right at the door so the estate of the master, the body of believers, will not suffer the ravages of false teachings.
 
Now back to Mark 13:35. Jesus gave the example of the porter watching for the master and now He admonishes the Christians that they are to watch or remain vigilant. Why? Because we are not going to know the time of the Lord’s return because he gives us three watches of the day, and does not specify any particular time. The only way a Christian can be ready for the Lord’s return is to be faithfully employed in fruitful ministry anticipating the Lord’s return.
 
On to verse 36 where the Lord is warning the Christians, not the unbelievers, that He may come suddenly or unexpectedly and find the Christians sleeping. We are living in age of sleeping Christians. (Mat 13:25 KJV) But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. In Matthew 13:25, we are reading that while men slept, the enemies sowed tares among the wheat. In the Scriptures, the wheat is the true believers. The tares are the unbelievers plus it also points to the fact of false teachings which are found among the Christians. Do we live in a time of false teachings? Purpose driven church, date setting, Nation of Israel worshipped by churches and some media ministries, annihilation, no final judgment, no visible return of Christ, 1,000 year reign on earth, days of creation accepted as long periods of time, free will, counterfeit Bible versions, unbelievers in pulpits, tongues, signs and wonders, faith healers, etc. Christians have been fast asleep for many years and have allowed the tares to come in and sow the false teachings among the wheat.
 
In verse 37, Jesus is making the statement that not only are the disciples to watch but He states that all are to watch. The “all” are the ones who will come after the disciples up until the last day. Based upon what we have already looked at in the Scriptures, the warning Jesus gives is not a command for Christians to set dates for His return. It is for His people to remain vigilant in their Christian walk while they are engaged in doing the work of the Lord. Christians are never to forsake the commands which Christ gives us to be vigilant in our stewardship of doing the Lord’s work. Date setting is tantamount to idleness because it stops and diverts a Christian from true Gospel studies. In all applications of watching so far, it is only connected with faithful ministry.
 
Luke 12:35-43
In this section of Scripture we will be seeing the subject of the waiting servant being faithful in their duties until the return of the Lord from the wedding feast.
 
{35} Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
 
In ancient times, men wore long flowing robes and if they were doing some kind of work, they would literally have to tuck the robes into the belt which went around their waist and then they would be ready for both work and the speed of that work. Then in the second part of this verse the disciples are told to keep their lights burning. A light is to guide one in the dark and if they are to keep them burning, then that means they will be ready when they have to travel for some reason or for those who work at night. This verse is also teaching the Christian to always be prepared.
 
{36} And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
 
In the previous set of verses we read about the porter, who is the doorkeeper, and had as his responsibility, to watch for the master returning form the long journey. He would also prevent unauthorized people from entering into the estate. In Luke 12:36, we are looking at a similar situation but instead the Lord is coming from a wedding. In ancient Israel, weddings were not like they are today for just a part of a day. The festivities could last 7-14 days, so the doorkeeper would be ready to open the door but would not know exactly when the Lord would return and that was why he was to remain vigilant, so he could open the door immediately.
 
{37} Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
 
Here is a tremendous verse speaking about the faithfulness of the servants. Those who were ready and vigilant at the return of the Lord from the wedding feast, would now be tended to by the Lord. These are the ones who were saved and would now be taken to Heaven where they will be taken care of eternally by God the Father and God the Son. He is not speaking about someone sitting down and date setting when it comes to girding up their loins and keeping their lights burning. As Christians we go into this world with the light of the Gospel which burns brightly in a spiritually darkened word. So here the watching is in the faithful service of the Christians who are engaged in obedience to the Great Commission in sending out the Gospel to the world.
 
{38} And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
 
Here the Lord is restating the fact that the Christian must be ready and prepared for His return. They will not know what watch He will return in but He states that those who are vigilant in their service will be ready in all watches and because of their faithfulness and obedience in continued service, He will find them faithful and they will be blessed.
 
{39} And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
 
Here once again we read about the master of the house and if he knew when the thief was going to break in, he would have watched out for him so there would be no break in of the house. Now since a person does not know when a thief will strike, the only way to prevent a robbery would be to prepare beforehand so the thief would come but would not be able to break in. Prevention, in this case, would be preparation. In modern days we have burglar alarms, dogs, electric fences, walls, etc., to prevent robberies. All of these are proper preparations. A person does not wait until they are robbed before they prepare, they prepare as soon as a possible and before anything happens.
 
{40} Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
 
One of the greatest diversions Christian fall prey to is date setting. They try to figure out when the Lord Jesus Christ is returning to this world. There has never been a correct date given by anyone and there never will be. One date which these date setters never include is the fact that Christ comes for many believers everyday in death. Many Christians die everyday and that means the Son of Man has come for them. If God did not see fit to reveal to us our day of death, why would He reveal to someone the date of the deaths of billions of people? Date setters never take this into consideration. Just like Satan has taken judgment day and placed it 1,007 years in the future, date setters always place the return of Christ in some future date not realizing that many, maybe including the date setter, will never see that date. This is why the Lord Jesus commanded His children to be faithful in occupying the time instead of trying to figure out the date of His return. Just as the servants who were in the field and the mill worked right up until the day the Lord returned, we must follow the same pattern and work and be as faithful in ministry as long as we possibly can.
 
41} Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
 
Peter was not sure who the Lord had in mind when He made these statements but we know for sure that the Lord was speaking to all because the time of the second coming was in view.
 
{42} And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? {43} Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
 
Once again the Lord makes it plain who will be blessed. It will not be the date setter who does nothing but figure out false dates but it will be the wise and faithful steward. This is the second time in this parable where the Lord comments on the fact that the wise and faithful servant will be the one who is blessed. The Lord gave the Great Commission at the time He went back to Heaven and that has never been rescinded because we are to continue on until He returns. This is why the Lord states that the servant will be blessed who is faithfully engaged in ministry when He returns.
 
1 Thessalonians 5:6
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Sleep - Figurative for being unaware, oblivious, ignorant, or unconscious to the subject or situation at hand
Watch - Be alert or be vigilant
Sober - Self-controlled or well-balanced
 
Here Paul is stating that since the Christians are people of the day, we must never sleep during the day. We are to remain vigilant, alert, and watching. Not only those things but while we are being vigilant, we do not be vigilant in a mode of rest, instead the Christian continues to work until the Lord returns or He takes us home through physical death. (Luke 19:13 KJV) And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. This means we are to be involved with the work of the Lord and not to put on white robes and sit on a mountain top and wait for the Lord to return. Our responsibility is to get the Gospel out to the entire world as we are commanded in the Great Commission. Many Christians are sleeping today by thinking that going to church or just listening to the radio is all that is required. That is false, we are to be involved seven days a week in sending forth the Gospel. There are some today who have believed they figured out the day of the Lord’s return and they have stopped evangelizing and have focused on that date. They are, in essence, sleeping because they are not sending out the Gospel and the one who just goes to church or listen to the radio is sleeping. If you have no involvement in sending forth the true, and not diverted Gospel, then you are sleeping and this applies to date setters since it is a different gospel than the one which saves.
 
Revelation 3:3
Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Watch - Remain vigilant, stay awake, or be alert.
Christ is now commanding them to remember not the fact that they heard but how they received and heard. They received the truth in much hardship and persecution. They also received the Gospel through faith. The Lord is telling them to hold fast to the things they had when they first became a church. Christ is commanding them to repent and abide in those things which make for a solid spiritual church. Worldly things in the church do not grow Christians in the faith. If this church refuses to remain vigilant in those things which still remain, then the Lord is going to come upon them as a thief and when a thief comes, you do not know what hour he comes. There are two scenarios in view in the second half of this verse. The first one is that if they do not repent, the Lord will come swiftly and uncompromisingly upon this church and remove them from being a living church among the congregations of the Lord. The second scenario is that the return of the Lord at His second coming will be as a thief in the night. It will come upon all churches and those that are not found faithful, will suffer the consequences of the unsaved world. This also applies to radio and TV ministries because anyone who takes up the Word of God and teaches it, is responsible for what they teach.
 
Prior Generations
Now the date setters of today do not take something else into consideration. What about all those Christians who lived between the Lord’s ascension and let us say the 19th century for example. Would there have been a great expansion of Christianity during this time if every Christian, who read their Bibles, and took the word “watch” to mean only “date setting?” If date setting is so “biblical” for today, why was it not since the time of Christ’s ascension? Instead, they took the word “watch” and saw that it spoke of vigilance and they were watchers in their own generations over the souls of others and it cost many their physical lives.
 
(Acts 13:36 KJV) For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: This is what David did. He served his own generation and that is what the multitude of Christians did in prior years. They preached and they spread the gospel and people became saved, so in case the Son of Man came in a time they thought not, they were ready to go to Heaven.
 
Summation
We have been through quite a number of verses which focus on watching in reference to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we progressed in the study, we found harmony that “watching” is always associated with being faithfully engaged in the ministry as wise and prudent stewards. “Watching” is never associated, in any manner, with date setting. This is just another aberrant application of Scripture by those who choose to exalt themselves as if they found the date of Christ’s return. We also saw in these Scriptures where Christ specifically states that we do not know when He will return as He used specific language, such as, “second or third watch,” and “ye know not,” and “when ye think not.” So for those who misuse the word “watch” and try to force the meaning as “date setting” are proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are false teachers and are not to be trusted.
 
We are to continue to be faithfully engaged in the ministry of sending forth the true Gospel to the world and the Lord will shut it down because He has declared there will be a day when He will return but until then as stewards, we are to be found faithful. With every tract that is given or every true gospel broadcast, there is always an anticipation and knowledge that the Lord will be returning. In fact, those who are involved in true ministry are more cognizant of the return of Christ than the date setters because the faithful are involved with the souls of others and want to see as many get into Heaven as possible, while the date setters are involved with their own pride, they do nothing but glorify themselves. Every person who lives has a day of death assigned to them and that is one thing that faithful stewards are very aware of and that is what motivates them to continue to send forth the Gospel. Those who deal in large chunks of time, remove the reality and personality of the true ministry.
 
(Acts 17:31 KJV) Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
But until that time…..
 
(Luke 19:13 KJV) And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
 
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