Body and Blood of Christ

Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:14-30

"For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his  slaves and entrusted his property to them;  to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another  one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once  and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 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.' 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.' 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.' 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.' 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;  so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.  Here you have what is yours.' 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? 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. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 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. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 

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Parable of the Talents


he talent entrusted to the servants is the largest currency unit of the time. The firsttwo servants, by industrious trading, doubled the respective amounts received. The third, a man afflicted with 'prudence’, carefully hid his money. With his 'after a long time' (v. 19) Matthew denotes the delay of the parousia - the expected return of the Lord. The master (Kyrios is also 'Lord') returned and held a reckoning. The firsttwo servants were congratulated and rewarded for their enterprise and fidelity. The reward of faithful and profitable service is greater responsibility and an acceptance into a more intimate relationship with the Lord. Though their responsibility had been unequal (five talents and two talents) their reward was the same (vv.21,23): what matters is wholehearted commitment, not accomplishment.

The third servant (the focus of the parable) received blame and condemnation - because he had done nothing. He had been too 'prudent' to take a risk. Punishment was for disuse rather than abuse of what had been entrusted. The servant's characterisation of the Master as 'a harsh man betrayed his manner of imaging God (quite like that of the elder son of Luke's parable: 'all those years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command' - Lk 15:29). One who images God so will strive to live within 'safe' parameters, will take no risk. The others had the confidence and the freedom to ‘trade'. They were not afraid of God. He was their loving Parent.

Matthew would seem to be warning Christian leaders who portrayed God as an exacting taskmaster to the detriment of his loving Parenthood. The upshot is that the inactive servant loses everything. Likely, v. 29was originally a cynical proverb to the effect that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In its present context it refers to human response to God's gift. One who commits oneself will receive generously; one who is ungenerous and selfish will end up losing what little one has. The warning is clear: a Christian who will not 'do' one's faith must lose out.

Wilfrid Harrington




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This is the Story of Jesus drawn from the four Evangelists

Roman Coin, around 10 BC,

Unfolding the Story of jesus

Gospel passages accompanied by a number of brief commentaries

Unfolding the story of jesus