Parable of the Talents

The Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30

Growing up I believed this was about the “gifts of the spirit” that we have been given which are listed in Paul’s letters. This was because I often heard it preached that the point Jesus is driving home is that we each have been given spiritual gifts and we must use them or lose them.  I am not so sure that this is the case though.  In fact, I don’t believe this is anywhere near what Christ was actually teaching given its context.  Given the surrounding context and internal evidence, it seems that this parable is not so much about “gifts” or “god-given talents” like serving and giving, rather, it seems to be more about returning to the throne of God “with interest” (v.27). Many preachers and teachers over the last 20-30 years have been taking this parable out of context and inadvertently changing its intended meaning.  We have been taking the english meaning of the word “talent” (which is transliterated from the greek word “talanton” which is a measure of weight used for coinage (BDAG).  This word has been overused and misrepresented when it comes to this pericope while the crucial points of the text have been neglected.  Following are four crucial points of this pericope:

  1. God has given us a great gift.  This gift was the gift of life and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.
  2. God expects us to gain interest on His behalf and not return empty-handed.  We must do our best to share the gift we have been given (life and the Kingdom of God) with those around us.  Essentially this goes back to what will later be known as the Great Commission, the sharing of the hope that is found in Christ.
  3. God expects us to sow even where He did not.  This brings to mind a parable.  While Christ came and sowed the seed in an earlier time, we are called to continue His work and sow where He did not.
  4. We will be judged on these things.  These are not optional items.  We must follow through with providing an interest on God’s investment.  God has invested in our lives as Christians and granted us the power and His Spirit to help us spread the good news.  While some will be better than others (just as different amounts of talents were given to each), and each will bring a different amount of interest, we must all work to not return empty handed.

It seems that this parable has to do with being prepared and preparing others to meet the eternal Kingdom as its King returns for us. I have a hard time believing this is only discussing social services & benevolence. This is a great teaching on discipleship and the necessity of proclaiming the hope we have in Christ.

What are your thoughts? How have you invested the gifts of life and the Kingdom?