World Wide Study Bible


a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

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; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then 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.’ 21His 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.’ 22And 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.’ 23His 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.’ 24Then 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; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But 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? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For 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. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Select a resource above

Mt 25:14-30. Parable of the Talents.

This parable, while closely resembling it, is yet a different one from that of The Pounds, in Lu 19:11-27; though Calvin, Olshausen, Meyer, and others identify them—but not De Wette and Neander. For the difference between the two parables, see the opening remarks on that of The Pounds. While, as Trench observes with his usual felicity, "the virgins were represented as waiting for their Lord, we have the servants working for Him; there the inward spiritual life of the faithful was described; here his external activity. It is not, therefore, without good reason that they appear in their actual order—that of the Virgins first, and of the Talents following—since it is the sole condition of a profitable outward activity for the kingdom of God, that the life of God be diligently maintained within the heart."

14. For the kingdom of heaven is as a man—The ellipsis is better supplied by our translators in the corresponding passage of Mark (Mr 13:34), "[For the Son of man is] as a man," &c.,

travelling into a far country—or more simply, "going abroad." The idea of long "tarrying" is certainly implied here, since it is expressed in Mt 25:19.

who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods—Between master and slaves this was not uncommon in ancient times. Christ's "servants" here mean all who, by their Christian profession, stand in the relation to Him of entire subjection. His "goods" mean all their gifts and endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual. As all that slaves have belongs to their master, so Christ has a claim to everything which belongs to His people, everything which, may be turned to good, and He demands its appropriation to His service, or, viewing it otherwise, they first offer it up to Him; as being "not their own, but bought with a price" (1Co 6:19, 20), and He "delivers it to them" again to be put to use in His service.

15. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one—While the proportion of gifts is different in each, the same fidelity is required of all, and equally rewarded. And thus there is perfect equity.

to every man according to his several ability—his natural capacity as enlisted in Christ's service, and his opportunities in providence for employing the gifts bestowed on him.

and straightway took his journey—Compare Mt 21:33, where the same departure is ascribed to God, after setting up the ancient economy. In both cases, it denotes the leaving of men to the action of all those spiritual laws and influences of Heaven under which they have been graciously placed for their own salvation and the advancement of their Lord's kingdom.

16. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same—expressive of the activity which he put forth and the labor he bestowed.

and made them other five talents.

17. And likewise he that had received two he also gained other two—each doubling what he received, and therefore both equally faithful.

18. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money—not misspending, but simply making no use of it. Nay, his action seems that of one anxious that the gift should not be misused or lost, but ready to be returned, just as he got it.

19. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them—That any one—within the lifetime of the apostles at least—with such words before them, should think that Jesus had given any reason to expect His Second Appearing within that period, would seem strange, did we not know the tendency of enthusiastic, ill-regulated love of His appearing ever to take this turn.

20. Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained besides them five talents more—How beautifully does this illustrate what the beloved disciple says of "boldness in the day of judgment," and his desire that "when He shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming!" (1Jo 4:17; 2:28).

21. His lord said unto him, Well done—a single word, not of bare satisfaction, but of warm and delighted commendation. And from what Lips!

thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things, &c.

22. He also that had received two talents came … good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many thingsBoth are commended in the same terms, and the reward of both is precisely the same. (See on Mt 25:15). Observe also the contrasts: "Thou hast been faithful as a servant; now be a ruler—thou hast been entrusted with a few things; now have dominion over many things."

enter thou into the joy of thy lord—thy Lord's own joy. (See Joh 15:11; Heb 12:2).

24. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man—harsh. The word in Luke (Lu 19:21) is "austere."

reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed—The sense is obvious: "I knew thou wast one whom it was impossible to serve, one whom nothing would please: exacting what was impracticable, and dissatisfied with what was attainable." Thus do men secretly think of God as a hard Master, and virtually throw on Him the blame of their fruitlessness.

25. And I was afraid—of making matters worse by meddling with it at all.

and went and hid thy talent in the earth—This depicts the conduct of all those who shut up their gifts from the active service of Christ, without actually prostituting them to unworthy uses. Fitly, therefore, may it, at least, comprehend those, to whom Trench refers, who, in the early Church, pleaded that they had enough to do with their own souls, and were afraid of losing them in trying to save others; and so, instead of being the salt of the earth, thought rather of keeping their own saltness by withdrawing sometimes into caves and wildernesses, from all those active ministries of love by which they might have served their brethren.

Thou wicked and slothful servant—"Wicked" or "bad" means "falsehearted," as opposed to the others, who are emphatically styled "good servants." The addition of "slothful" is to mark the precise nature of his wickedness: it consisted, it seems, not in his doing anything against, but simply nothing for his master.

Thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed—He takes the servant's own account of his demands, as expressing graphically enough, not the hardness which he had basely imputed to him, but simply his demand of a profitable return for the gift entrusted.

27. thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers—the bankers.

and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury—interest.

29. For unto every one that hath shall be given, &c.—See on Mt 13:12.

30. And cast ye—cast ye out.

the unprofitable servant—the useless servant, that does his Master no service.

into outer darkness—the darkness which is outside. On this expression see on Mt 22:13.

there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth—See on Mt 13:42.