Jesus told a similar parable involving ten minas (pieces of money called "pounds" in the KJV) lu1911ff. When He spoke about the talents He was still with His disciples on the Mount of Olives mt2401ff.
¶ For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country,
who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
For In the previous verse, at the end of the story of the virgins, Jesus had said to watch because no one would know the time of His coming. This next story is about the master who told his slaves to put his money to work. It shows us our responsibility while waiting for the time of joy.
Kingdom of heaven This is the last of 32 times this phrase appears (in the KJV). This once it is supplied by translators – appropriately because the theme continues from the message of the ten virgins where the phrase is used. The first occurrence is mt0302. It was an important concept for Matthew's Jewish readers who were looking for the kingdom of the Messiah on earth.
As a man traveling Jesus was the man and was soon to return to heaven. Compare mr1334. The nobleman in the parable of the minas went "to receive for himself a kingdom" lu1912.
His own servants This call was not to the world but to those who profess to serve Him – His slaves 1co0620, 1pe0118f.
His goods What were His goods (personal possessions)? The Holy Spirit, the gift that includes all that we receive from Christ 1co1208ff, ep0408, jn1526f. And in the gift of the Spirit is Christ's own righteousness ps07201, is6110.
Image © 1900, Christ's Object Lessons
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one;
to every man according to his several [or "own"] ability; and straightway
[at once] took his journey.
15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. (RSV)
A talent is the monetary value of about 75.4 pounds (34.2 kg.) of silver
or 965 troy ounces.
According to his ... ability The master knew the capability of each man and gave him what he could handle well.
Ability Often we think of talents as abilities. They may include abilities but are more. Time, influence, health, and money are talents to be used to carry out the mission of the kingdom of heaven.
Straightway took his journey Shortly before Jesus ascended to heaven He breathed the Holy Spirit on them jn2022. Compare lu2449. But the Spirit would be received in full by His followers only after being surrendered through faith and prayer ac0108ff. Then, at the time of Pentecost, they would be in full possession of the Lord's "goods." ac0201, ep0407f. The text may also be translated with the word, "at once" or "straightway" as describing when the talents were put to use rather than when the Master departed as is shown in the RSV quoted at the left. Both translations are true.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
.18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
Five talents ... two ... one Amounts "according to ability" as in comments above.
One ... hid The unfaithful one could have been the five-talent man or the two-talent man. In telling the story as He did, Jesus left none of us with an excuse that, because others are more capable, we are not responsible lu1610.
Earth This or the money changers v27 offered security. Compare mt1344.
Illustration: Trading with the talents. From Christ's Object Lessons, 1900.
After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with
.20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
- After a long time See on the "many days" of da0826.
Could there be a connection?
19 - Reckoneth This older word is related to "reconciliation." We do this to verify our bank transactions. The master had come to settle accounts. In a spiritual sense, this is judgment. For each man a reward is announced. Jesus' story of the man without a wedding garment also depicts a time of judgment before the reward mt2211.
20 - He that had received ... came Each was accountable for his lord's money.
20 - Beside them five more Whose were the talents? All belonged to the lord or master, as we see in v25. It is in Christ's strength that we do any good thing.
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou
hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many
things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
done Notice that he was approved for what he did. Is
this salvation by works? See our explanation at re2212
and follow the links.
Good and faithful Two qualities we need. Jesus is "faithful and just" to forgive and cleanse us 1jn0109. I suggest we here see goodness as our standing before God (forgiven) and faithfulness as our quality of behavior (cleansed). These are justification and sanctification.
Ruler over many things A promotion. We will have responsibilities working with our God in heaven.
Joy of thy lord Why didn't Jesus say simply "enter into joy"? What is His joy that we will experience in heaven? lu1503.
22, 23 The repetition of the master's words for the two-talent man teaches us that our reward depends on faithfulness with what we have, not on the greatness of our gifts.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee
that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering
where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
|24 - Lord ... thou art an hard man This statement is false, and it defies logic. The servant was justifiably "afraid" v25, but he could have just been quiet about his opinions if he had wanted to minimize his punishment for not using the talent to increase its value as he was expected to do.|
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant,
thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not
.27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
.28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
.29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
.30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- Wicked and slothful [lazy] Compare with the two qualities
of the other servants v21.
26 - Thou knewest that I reap This statement, too, seems illogical. It's our invitation to pray and think. There is a little truth in the statement. The harvest or extra money would have indeed belonged to the master.
27 - Money to the exchangers Those who feel weak have a responsibility to seek spiritual help.
28 - Take ... the talent from him Those who fail to use the gift of grace to become more and more like Christ, loose the initial gift of forgiveness – not that God denies the forgiveness but, in rejecting the responsibility to grow, they return to the sin of the broad way mt0713.
30 - Cast ye Christ speaks to his other servants. Living and reigning as judges with Christ is the work of the millennial judgment re2004, mt1928. There the decisions for eternal death are confirmed.
30 - Outer darkness See on mt2213.
30 - Unprofitable You may want to figure out why Jesus used this word.
30 - Weeping and gnashing This would be in anticipation of eternal loss re1611.
The wicked servant received the gift of forgiveness when he agreed to be the master's servant but failed to apply grace to his life, letting Christ work in him ep0320, ph0213. He said to himself, I know that the master wants me to use that money to buy a field and work in the hot sun but he will come back and reap the harvest. This is true, the whole crop belongs to Christ. The souls we work for are bought with the price of His blood 1co0620. The characters we develop are totally by His grace. Although all belongs to Him, He purifies the gifts and returns them to us to use for Him. We enter into His joy.
The wicked servant represents all who take the name of Christ but do not expect to exercise their will using the power He supplies. The work of cutting out sinful habits from our lives in His strength is ours. No one goes to heaven who would not be happy there. We must choose for ourselves, the divine lifestyle of joy.
In using the various talents of time, money, influence, and so on, for the salvation of souls, our characters develop. We experience joy here, and in heaven we will rejoice more fully as people we have had a part in bringing to Christ are grateful that we helped make it possible for them to be there.
¶ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels
with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
.33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
- When the Son of man shall come We
may see this as the "sign of the Son of man" mt2430
and the time of silence in heaven re0801.
Here He comes, gathers, separates, and speaks to the two groups. The speaking
may be to their hearts.
32 - Nations ... separate them It first appears that Christ chooses people for heaven according to their nation or people group. A popular Pentecostal preacher, Benny Hinn, referred to "goat nations" and "sheep nations." (Super Channel, Oct 10, 2001). The text here gives us no reason not to see them as simply individual people. A nation is primarily an ethnic group, Greek, ethnos. At the end of time, society will be chaos. I believe the righteous will be in little groups and the wicked may be all living in gangs mt1820, he1132ff. We are accountable to God as individuals ez1820.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of
my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
.39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
.40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
40 - Inasmuch Should we feel sorry for ourselves when we are cheated, hurt, or lied about? Our Lord suffers with us! ac2208.
Image © Correl
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
.45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
.46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
- Depart What a tragedy! The wicked will have chosen separation
from God which means eternal death.
41 - Everlasting fire See "everlasting punishment" below.
41 - Prepared for the devil and his angels Because humans go to this fire re2013, why are they not mentioned along with the angels? Because the angels both good and wicked have made their final and eternal decision. The fire is not a question for the evil angels. It will be waiting for them. Humans have been deceived. Their probation for making a choice has not yet passed, although some as individuals have decided. And at death, our time for a choice will have passed. For "everlasting" see on v46 below.
42 - You didn't feed me As with the sheep, kindness to others is an index of the heart relationship to Christ.
46 - Everlasting punishment We know from other passages that the wicked will be completely destroyed — nothing left. Then how can their punishment be "everlasting"? It does continue without end. They will be forever separated from God, never again given the opportunity they have rejected re2009bno. After their suffering the fire, they will know nothing because they will not be ob15f.