A Similar Parableluke 1: 11
It would probably be unwise to study the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 without also considering a similar parable in Luke 19:11-27:
The similarities between the parable in Matthew 25 and this parable in Lukes Gospel are easily seen:
- man goes to another country, stays a long time, and then returns.
- man allocates his resources to servants, expecting them to make a profit in his absence.
- first two servants are faithful they are praised by their master and are given greater authority.
- third servant hides what was entrusted to him.
- third servant seeks to excuse himself by accusing his master of being harsh.
- third servant claims that he was afraid of his master.
- third servant does not make a profit for his master.
- first two servants are commended and go to heaven the third is condemned and goes to hell.
- master tells his unfaithful servant that he should have put the money in the bank.
- which was given to the third servant is taken away and given to the faithful servant who gained the most for his master.
While the parable in Luke is similar to our parable in Matthew 25, there are some significant differences:
The temptation is for us to carry details from the parable in Lukes Gospel over to Matthews account, but we should be careful about this, recognizing that these parables, while similar, were told on different occasions and contain significant differences.
Be Clear With Expectations
Anytime you are working with someone on business or a financial transaction, be clear with what is expected of each party. If the third servant had asked more questions about what was expected of him, he might have been better off. If youre not clear or you think another party is not clear, talk it over until clarity is achieved. Doing the work up front is better for everyone.
What Is The Meaning Of The Parable Of The Talents
The story of Jesus telling this parable really begins in Matthew 24 when he mentions the coming destruction of Jerusalem. The disciples ask for details about the last days, and Jesus talks about how harsh they will be, warning them to look out for false teachers and so forth. He then gives several messages and illustrations:
– The wise and faithful servant
– The parable of the 10 virgins
Crucially, Jesus says that both the parable of the 10 virgins and the parable of the talents are about what the kingdom of heaven will be like in the last days . Therefore, the master represents Christ, while the three servants represent those who serve him. The masters return presumably refers to the last days when Jesus will return, and at the final judgment unrepentant sinners will perish and those served God will be rewarded according to their actions .
The apocalyptic context is underscored in Lukes version, where people try to keep the master from becoming king and are killed for their rebellion. The Gospels make it clear many times that Jesus was the king of the Jews, but came in a way they did not expect, preaching a message many didnt want to hear. Jesus came into a world that was the devils domain and claimed it for himself, despite opposition from demons and sinful people who disliked him calling out their flaws. Revelation makes it clear that in the last days, Jesus will subvert his opponents, punish them and be named king over the world.
God Always Gives Us Everything We Need To Do What He Has Called Us To Do
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me . The Master, in the parable, expected his servants to do more than passively preserve what had been entrusted to them. God expects us to generate a return by using our skills and abilities toward a productive end
The servant who received 5 talents had everything necessary to produce 5 more. The servant who received 2 talents had everything necessary to produce 2 more. The servant who received 1 talent had everything necessary to produce 1 more. But out of fear, he chose to do nothing.
Fear trumps faith, if we let it.
When we you attempt to follow what God has entrusted to you it is not always easy. Thats why it is so important to stay faithful and let God take care of the success. Never so true as when a new life has been entrusted to you, called a baby. Even though God gives us everything we need, to be the parent he wants us to be, the role of a faithful parent will have plenty of pushback and opposition until adulthood is accomplishedsometimes beyond!
The key is to stay faithful and let God take care of the success. Just like the servant whoout of feardid not invest his talent, so too with parenting, fear of our childs response can make us back away from the mission.
Fear trumps mission if we let it. Fear makes cowards of us all, if we listen to its message more than Gods Words.
God does not NEED us, but He has chosen to use us in this thing called life.
The Parable Of The Talents: The Bible And Entrepreneurs
Friday, July 1, 1994
Paulist Father Robert A. Sirico is president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The parables of Jesus teach eternal truths, but they also offer surprising practical lessons for worldly affairs. In the Gospel According to St. Matthew we find Jesus Parable of the Talents. As with all the biblical parables, it has many layers of meaning. Its essence relates to how we are to use Gods gift of grace. As regards the material world, it is a story about capital, investment, entrepreneurship, and the proper use of scarce economic resources. It is a direct rebuttal to those who see a contradiction between business success and living the Christian life.
A rich man who was going on a long journey called his three servants together. He told them they would be caretakers of his property while he was gone. The master had carefully assessed the natural abilities of each servant. He gave five talents to one servant, two to another, and one to the thirdto each according to his ability. The master then left on his journey.
The servants went forth into a world open to enterprise and investment. The servant who had received five talents went into business and made five more. The servant who received two made two more. But the servant who received one hid the masters property in a hole in the ground.
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The Values Of A Talent
A talent was a unit of weight of approximately 80 pounds , and when used as a unit of money, was valued for that weight of silver. As a unit of currency, a talent was worth about 6,000 denarii. A denarius was the usual payment for a day’s labour. At one denarius per day, a single talent was therefore worth 20 years of labor .
What Does The Parable Of The Talents Mean
Looking at Matthew 25:1430 with ancient eyes
What does the Parable of the Talents mean? This woodcut from Historiae Celebriores Veteris Testamenti Iconibus Representataedated to 1712depicts the Talents parable . Two men bring the money that was entrusted to them back to their master, while a third man searches for his money outside.
What does the Parable of the Talents mean?
Jesustells the Parable of the Talents to his disciples. It appears in Matthew 25:1430, and another version of the parable can be found in Luke 19:1127. The story in Matthew 25:1430 unfolds as such: A man goes away on a trip. Before he leaves, he entrusts money to his slaves. To one he gives five talents, to the second he gives two talents, and to the third he gives a single talent. The first two slaves double their money they give the original investment and their profit to their master when he returns. The third slave, however, buries his talent out in a field instead of trying to make a profit he returns only this when his master comes back. The master is pleased with the first two slaves, but he is dissatisfied with the thirds actions. He reprimands this slave and casts him out into the darkness.
This interpretation of the Parable of the Talents meaning casts the actions of the first two slaves as shameful and that of the third slave as honorable.
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What We Can Learn From The Parable Of The Talents
This parable may have been written thousands of years ago but that doesnt mean its not relevant anymore. Yes, the concept of master and servant may have been outdated as well as most of the details in the story. But the lessons remain true no matter how many centuries have passed.
Here are some of the main takeaways we can get from the parable of the talents:
What Is The Reward For The Faithful Steward
Scripture promises that Jesus will one day return, and when he does, he will ask his servants to give a report of how they spent the time and opportunities he has given.
- Did they care for those they were instructed to protect?
- Did they provide for those in need?
- Did they share the good news of Christs salvation and forgiveness with others?
- Did they further the kingdom of God in their ministry?
- Were they faithful stewards of all God entrusted them with?
As Jesus said, To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me .
Those who are faithful with what theyre entrusted with, big and small, will be trusted with more, and Jesus said that they are the ones who will enter into their masters joy and share in the glory of his presence .
Those who are not may face the harsh reality of being called a wicked and lazy servant. Worst of all, they may not share in the joy of their masters presence when he returns.
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Depictions In The Arts
Parable of the TalentsParable of the TalentsAndrei Mironov
The “Parable of the Talents” has been depicted by artists such as Rembrandt, , and Matthäus Merian. In literature, the Threepenny Novel , by Bertolt Brecht , presents a social critique of the parable as an ideological tool of capitalist exploitation of the worker and of society.
In religious music, the hymn “Slave of God, Well Done!”, by John Wesley, notably alludes to the “Parable of the Talents” , which was written on the occasion of the death of George Whitefield , the English Anglican cleric who was instrumental to the First Great Awakening in Britain and in the American colonies.
The hymn “Slave of God, Well Done!” begins thus:
Slave of God, well done!Thy glorious warfare’s past
The Parable Of The Talents Conclusion
There you have it. Those are some of the top takeaways from the parable of the talents. Now, where do you go from here?
I encourage you to consider what God has entrusted and placed in you. Consider what he is asking you to do. Remember everyone is not going to be full-time tasked with preaching the gospel. Most of us will only have 2 talents or 1 talent.
Whatever God has tasked you to do, work at it with all your might, being the best you can be and doing all you can for the kingdom of God. It will all be worth it.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
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Version In The Gospel Of The Hebrews
Eusebius of Caesarea includes a paraphrased summary of a parable of talents taken from a “Gospel written in Hebrew script” this gospel is presumed to have been destroyed in the destruction of the Theological Library of Caesarea Maritima in the 7th century and has yet to be found. In that gospel, Eusebius writes that while the man who had hidden the talent was rebuked for its burial, only the man who had received two talents had invested and gained a return on his investment. The recipient of the five talents instead “wasted his master’s possessions with harlots and flute-girls” it was he, in the Hebrew gospel, that was sent into the darkness .
What Details Are Important
Jesus parables were intended to communicate an important principle or idea. Sometimes people get themselves into trouble by attaching too much significance to every aspect of the story. Here are some things its probably wise to notice.
The masters distribution
In the beginning, we see the master making the disciples responsible for managing a portion of his estate. Even though the servants are given different sums to take care of, it all still belongs to the master. Theyre merely administrators who will answer for how they invested the masters belongings.
This fact reinforces the principle of stewardship. As believers, we are all given resources according to our skills and abilities, but those resources ultimately belong to God. We will eventually answer for how we invest them.
The masters happiness
When the master returns and hears the reports of the first two servants, hes pleased. His response is to invite them to share in his happiness. This is an odd and evocative invitation.
In place of the wrath that people associate with Gods judgment, Jesus represents the faithful as entering into His happiness-experiencing His joy. Its reminiscent of Jesus words in Luke 12:32. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom .
The unfaithful servant who doesnt give the master a return on his investment is thrown out where he will never experience the masters happiness.
The masters personality
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The Meaning Behind The Parable Of The Talents
During his ministry, Jesus used parables to teach people a lesson or introduce them to the kingdom of God. Theyre basically stories about real-life scenarios that contain a hidden message. One such story is the parable of the talents.
A master was set to travel to distant lands. But before his trip, he called three of his servants and gave each of them a talent according to their abilities. To the first servant, he gave five talents to the second, two, and just one for the last servant. Then he went on his journey.
The first two servants went and put their money to work. While the last one dug a hole in the ground and hid what he received.
When the master came back, he asked the servants what became of the talents he gave them. The first one proudly replied that he gained 5 talents more with what the master had given him. The second servant also earned two talents more from the initial two he received. When the third servant came forward, he told his master what he did claiming that he did it out of fear.
Obviously, the master was very happy with the first two servants. As a reward for what they did, he put them in charge of more things and invited them to share his happiness. As for the third servant, he took the talent from him and banished him from his house.
He Expects Us To Use Our Gifts Wisely
What will we do with the blessings weve been given? God gives us free will to choose. He loves us so much that he allows us to freely decide our path in life. He desires that we grow our gifts for His glory, but its up to each of us to decide. Will we help the needy? Clothe the naked? Feed the hungry? Show mercy? Grant forgiveness? Love one another? Or will we squander our money and blessings? Hide or misuse our talents? Use our skills for evil instead of good? Worship money and financial status above God?
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In Everything That We Do We Must Seek To Glorify God
The faithfulness of the two servants despite their masters absence is a testament to their commitment to glorify their master. Even if he isnt physically present, they used his given talents to do what he would have wanted them to do. The same goes for us. In everything that we do, we must seek to glorify God. We must use what he has given us according to his purpose.
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Keys To The Interpretation Of Matthews Parable Of The Talents
In order to understand the meaning and the application of the parable of the talents, we must take note of the crucial terms and their meanings. Let me call your attention to the most important elements of the parable, as I now understand it.
The element of time. Time has been a significant factor in our Lords teaching concerning His coming and the end of the age, beginning in chapter 24. Jesus made it clear that His return would not be immediate, but after much trouble and the passing of a considerable period of time. While there would be sufficient evidence for His followers to discern the general season of His return, neither the day nor the hour would be known . Beyond this, His return would come at a time when it was not expected . In the parable of the talent, there are two clear references to time. First, the master stayed away for a long time . Second, the faithful servants immediately went to work to increase their masters money .
From the parable of the talents we seem to be informed that unbelievers are entrusted with certain things, and that they will also give account for their stewardship. I believe that there are other texts of Scripture which indicate that God has entrusted certain assets to all men, and that all men are accountable to God for how they use these resources which God has entrusted to them. I believe that we see this in Romans 9, where Paul speaks of the things God has entrusted Israel: