Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13 – Serving Two Masters

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon. — Matthew 6:24, World English.

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You aren’t able to serve God and mammon.” – Luke 16:13, World English.

The thought is often presented that if Yahweh is Lord, and Jesus is also “Lord”, then there are two masters, and Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters. The thought seems to be imagined and assumed regarding Jesus’ words that Jesus and the Father must both be one master, else we would serving two Masters, and thus that we must either hate one or the other these two masters. This would seem to overlook the fact that the only true God, who sent Jesus, is the one who made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Anointed One). — Exodus 3:14,15; Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Isaiah 61:1; John 17:3; Acts 2:36; 3:13-26.

Nevertheless, to carry this argument forth to its logical conclusion, this would mean that to serve Jesus as Master would mean to hate the God and Father of Jesus, or that to serve the God and Father of Jesus as Master would mean that we would hate the one whom he sent forth, except that they both be but one master, rather than two masters. Wisely, Beza Theodore comments on “two masters”:

Who are at odds with one another, for if two agree they are as one.

Beza, Theodore. “Commentary on Matthew 6”. “The 1599 Geneva Study Bible”. 1599-1645.

Jesus’ own words agree with this, for the “two masters” (God and mammon) that he spoke of are at odds with each; they are not in agreement.

If one should think that Jesus had to be Yahweh, or else that we would be serving two different masters in opposition to each other as Jesus spoke of in the verses cited, then it would have meant that many in the Old Testament times either hated Yahweh and loved the one anointed by Yahweh, or else he hated the one anointed by Yahweh and loved Yahweh.

He said to his men, Yahweh forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, Yahweh’s anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is Yahweh’s anointed…. David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and did obeisance [Strong’s #7812, transliterated Shachah, worshiped]. — 1 Samuel 24:6,9; World English.

Saul knew David’s voice, and said, Is this your voice, my son David? David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king. — 1 Samuel 26:17, World English.

Was David saying that he hated the Lord Yahweh by his recognition of Saul as the lord over him? Was he refusing to acknowledge Yahweh as “Lord”? Certainly not! Yet, he called Saul his lord, but notice how he later addressed Yahweh:

Then David the king went in, and sat before Yahweh; and he said, Who am I, Lord Yahweh, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? — 2 Samuel 7:18, World English

Notice that while David acknowledged Saul as “Lord”, as having been made so by Yahweh, yet he also refers to Yahweh as “Lord”. There is no thought in the scripture that David’s recognition of the one anointed (made christ) by Yahweh as “lord” would make Yahweh into an enemy of David.

King David said, Call to me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. They came before the king. The king said to them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: and let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel; and blow you the trumpet, and say, [Long] live king Solomon. Then you shall come up after him, and he shall come and sit on my throne; for he shall be king in my place; and I have appointed him to be prince over Israel and over Judah. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: Yahweh, the God of my lord the king, say so [too]. As Yahweh has been with my lord the king, even so be he with Solomon, and make his throne greater than the throne of my lord king David. . — 1 Kings 1:32-42, World English.

The above words show that Benaiah certainly did not improper to recognize David as his lord, and that he certainly did not believe that by doing so that he was becoming an enemy of Yahweh.

Someone may say that Jesus was laying down a new commandment, that was contrary to what was practiced in the Old Testament. We should note:

One of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and where did they come from?” I told him, “My lord, you know.” He said to me, “These are those who came out of the great oppression. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. — Revelation 7:13,14.

It should be obvious that when John referred to this elder as “my lord”, that he was not speaking to God nor to God’s son. However, when John referred to this elder as “my lord”, was he making Yahweh his enemy? Obviously not, since the elder was in accord with both Jesus and the God of Jesus.

Furthermore, in Revelation 17:15, we read that Jesus is “Lord of lords.” This signifies that he is not the only ‘lord’, but that there are others who are also “lords” over whom Jesus is the Lord. The angel speaking is referring to others than Jesus as “lords”. The “lords” being referred to here are evidently the kings who do battle with the lamb. More than likely it signifies that Jesus is such a powerful lord over these others who are “lords” that they could not gain victory over him. Jesus, however, is the “one lord” who has been made lord over the church; these kings are not lords over the church as such, but they, as being rulers of the world, are lords over Christians in secular matters. Paul wrote about such “lords” — rulers, saying: “Let every soul be in subjection to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those who be are ordained by God. Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands the ordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same, for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn’t bear the sword in vain; for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him who does evil. Therefore you need to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For this reason you also pay taxes, for they are ministers of God’s service, attending continually on this very thing. Give therefore to everyone what you owe: taxes to whom taxes are due; customs to whom customs; respect to whom respect; honor to whom honor.” (Romans 13:1-6) Was Paul here advocating subjection to these “lords” — rulers — of the world in such a manner that would be at enmity with God? No, not at all. Certainly, Paul was not advocating being subjection to them in any stance against God; surely Paul would agree with Peter and the other apostles that if any authority would tell us to disobey God, that “we must obey God rather than men.” — Acts 5:29.

As mentioned earlier, the only true God has at some point in time made Jesus to be our Lord. (Acts 2:36) The fact that the only true God made him lord over us does not signify the only true God is no longer “the Lord” Yahweh, nor does it mean that Jesus has to be Yahweh. Indeed, if it meant the latter, then, logically, it would mean that before Yahweh made Jesus to be our lord, then Jesus was not Yahweh, but that he became Yahweh when Yahweh made him our lord. In reality, however, when Yahweh made Jesus “lord”, Yahweh did not make him “lord”, or master, in opposition to Himself, as Jesus was the “two masters” that Jesus spoke of as recorded in Matthew 6:24 (or, Luke 16:13).

Related RL Studies

One God, One Lord – 1 Corinthians 8:6; Deuteronomy 6:4.

The Only Ruler Who Possesses Immortality — 1 Timothy 6:15,16.

Lord of Lords and King of Kings – Revelation 17:4; 19:16.

The “Lord” of David – Psalm 110:1.

Ephesians 4:6 – One Lord

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3 comments to Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13 – Serving Two Masters

  • Born Again Christian:
    Until now, you still have not given me a verse that says “the Father and the Son are two masters.”

    On my part, I have no reason to show you that the Jesus and his God are two different masters. Jesus and his God and Father are as one. — John 10:30.

    Romans 5:11 WEB
    Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

    2 Corinthians 1:21 WEB
    Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God;

    Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an eternal covenant, our Lord Jesus,
    Hebrews 13:21 make you complete in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

    1 Peter 2:5 WEB
    You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

    1 Peter 4:11 WEB
    If any man speaks, let it be as it were oracles of God. If any man serves, let it be as of the strength which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    Jesus and his Father are one; they are in agreement, they are not in opposition to each other. (John 10:30) Since to serve the one whom the Lord Yahweh anointed and sent (Isaiah 61:1) is also to serve the Lord Yahweh, there is nothing in serving Yahweh through His Son that means that one is serving two opposing masters, and must decide to serve one and not the other. — Matthew 10:32,33; John 4:34; 5:19,30; 8:19; 14:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:23; 2 John 1:9.

  • ResLight

    Submitted on 2011/12/09 at 5:14 pm

    Interesting comment, again there is only one Lord even according to the bible it states clearly that Jesus Christ is Lord, one Lord through whom are all things,

    Yes, the sripture clearly states that the one lord through whom are the all is Jesus; it is not the Lord Yahweh (Jehovah).

    from one God from whom are all things, thus the source of all is God manifested through his Son Jesus (through whom are all things).

    Yes, Ta Panta, “the all” is from the Lord Yahweh, who is the source of all. “God”, as being the source of the all, is not Jesus, since Jesus is the one through the all is given.

    that is rather a clear statement to preclude any two lord doctrine which you may have,

    I have not made any doctrine; the Bible itself uses the Greek word transliterated as “Kurios” many many different people, not just Jesus and his God and Father.

    In the Gospels alone we find that it is:

    Used of others than Christ.

    With the Article (ho Kurios), emphasizing ownership. Occurs fourty-two times: twenty-one times in Matthew 10:24,25; 15:27; 18:25,27,31,32,34; 20:8; 21:40; 24:45,46,48,50; 25:18,19,21,21,23,23,26; twice in Mark 12:9; 13:35; sixteen times in Luke 12:36,37,42,43,45,46,47; 14:21,23; 16:3,5,5,8; 19:33; 20:13,15; three times in John 13:16; 15:15,20.

    Without the Article (Kurios). Generally in courtesy, emphasizing superior relationship. Occ. Nineteen times. Rendered “Lord” fourteen times (Matthew 18:26; 25:11,11,20,22,24. Luke 13:8,25,25; 14:22; 19:16,18,20,25); “Master” twice (Matthew 6:24. Luke 16:13); “Sir” four times (Matthew 13:27; 21:30; 27:63. John 12:21).

    See: “Lord” in the New Testament

    Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me; because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening [of the prison] to those who are bound.

    In Isaiah 61:1, we have “the Lord Yahweh” who is distinguished from the Messiah (the anointed one) whom the Lord Yahweh anointed, and made both Christ and Lord. (Acts 2:36) Thus, the one Lord Yahweh who is one Lord, makes His son another “Lord”, and thus they are two different “Lord”s, but only one of these lords is the source of the all, and only one of these lords is the lord through whom the all is given.

    Matthew 6:24
    “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon (worldly gain, avarice).
    Luke 16:13
    No servant can serve [Douleuo – Strong’s #1398] two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You aren’t able to serve God and mammon.”

    Yes, indeed, in any and every act that we commit, we are either serving the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, or else we are serving mammon. The new creature in Christ is dedicated to the God and Father of Jesus, however, and can only be a servant of the God and Father of Jesus, else he is no longer a Son of God, for no Son of God commits sin. The new creature still, however, has to deal with the sinful flesh, which may not always be obedient to God.

    Nevertheless, this does not mean that no Christian cannot be in the service of another human master, for Paul wrote:

    Ephesians 6:5 Servants [Doulos- Strong’s #1401] , be obedient to those who according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as to Christ;
    Ephesians 6:6 not in the way of service only when eyes are on you, as men-pleasers; but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
    Ephesians 6:7 with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.
    Ephesians 6:9 You masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with him.

    Colossians 3:22 Servants, obey in all things those who are your masters according to the flesh, not just when they are looking, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God.

    Colossians 4:1 Masters, give to your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

    Thus, any service that a child of God gives to any human master is given in harmony with God, for such is doing service to Yahweh by their obedience to the masters.

    1 Timothy 6:1
    Let as many servants [Doulos- Strong’s #1401] as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed . 2 And they that have believingmasters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service , because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort
    1 Timothy 6:2
    And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service , because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

    So how is that one can be service to a human master and God at the same time without being in service to two masters? As related to the two masters that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6:24, it is because they would, by their obedience to their human masters, being showing for their obedience to God and their Master, the Lord Jesus. Likewise, to obey Jesus as our lord is the same as obeying the only true God who sent Jesus, since the God and Father of Jesus tells us that we should obey Jesus, and thus to obey Jesus is to obey the God and Father of Jesus, since the God and Father of Jesus has appointed Jesus to be our Lord, all to the glory of the God and Father of Jesus.

  • ResLight

    Submitted on 2011/12/09 at 5:21 pm

    I am not sure why you are using david as an example, David called Jesus Lord…, you need to distinguish between human titlature such as nobles and kings called lord out of respect rather than actuality, the bible refers to only one Lord in heaven, not two or three, but one, the only potenate. I am not sure your analogies with david make sense, David was a human King, Jesus was the Lord of heaven and earth, uh big difference.

    After reading the above, I still see no reason why I should not use David as example.

    David did indeed refer to the Lord Jesus as adoni, “My Lord.” (Psalm 110:1) It should be self-evident that when David was prophetically referring to Jesus as “my Lord”, that he was not referring to Jesus as Yahweh, since David distinguishes Yahweh from “my lord” in that verse. There is definitely nothing in Psalm 110:1 that gives any indication that David, by referring to Jesus as “my Lord”, thought he was saying that Jesus is Yahweh. The reasoning, however, that David, by saying ‘my Lord’ as recorded in Psalm 110:1 would mean that David was saying that Jesus the Lord Yahweh is ciruclar reasoning, for it starts out with the assumption that Jesus is Yahweh, and thus, that this why David spoke of Jesus as “my Lord”. Peter’s words as recorded in Acts 2:32-36; 3:13-26 show that Peter certainly did NOT think that David was saying that Jesus is Yahweh.

    The “Lord” of David
    Is Jesus the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

    Nevertheless, the assumption that was being promoted was that there is only one who to be recognized as “Lord”; since the Bible does recognize that there are indeed “many lords”, the point that David and many others are also referred as “lord” stands. (1 Corinthians 8:5) At the same time, it is also true that Jesus is indeed the “one Lord” through whom the “one God” provides the all. (1 Corinthians 8:6) The fact that there are “many lords” does not conflict with the thought that Jesus is the “one Lord” through whom the all is provided, since none of these other “lords” is that “one Lord” through “the one God” provides the all.