What Does the Parable of the Talents Mean?
It is different than the modern concept of a “talent” as a gift or natural ability. Here, the master is entrusting his servants with a measure of his wealth, proportionate to each of their abilities (Matthew 25:15).
The parable goes on to say that two of the servants, the one given five talents and the one handed two, were good stewards of their master’s money, investing it in such a way that when the master returned, they handed back double what he had originally given them (Matthew 25:16-17).
The third servant, however, was not so prudent. According to the story, “the one who received the one talent went away and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money” (Matthew 25:18).
When the master eventually did return, the servants who were faithful were praised and entrusted with more of the master’s wealth. “Well done, good and faithful servant,” the master said to each of them. “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).
The servant who was fearful and negligent, however, was swiftly reprimanded by his master, who called him “wicked, lazy, and worthless.” His talent was taken and given to the one with ten talents, and he himself was thrown out of his master’s presence (Matthew 25:30).
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). But just because Jesus is physically absent from the earth, doesn’t mean his followers are given the freedom to sit back and do nothing.
The Parable of the Talents.
14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents,[f] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 25:14-30
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