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The Talents


            CHAPTER 14

          The  Parable of the Talents was addressed to the  Twelve
         Apostles,  but  it  also  applies  to  all Christians.  It is
         similar to the Parable of the  Ten  Minas  (Pounds),  and  is
         found  only  in Matthew 25:14-30.  It is sometimes called the
         Parable  of  the  Three  Servants.    (Earle,  BEACON   BIBLE
         COMMENTARY, MATTHEW, pp. 226 ff.).  . 
The Story
   "Again, it will be like a man  going  on a journey, who called his servants and
                   entrusted his property to them.   To  one he gave five talents of money, to another
                   two talents, and  to another one  talent,  each  according  to his ability.  Then he
                   went on his journey.   The  man  who  had  received  the  five  talents went at once
                   and put his money to work and gained five  more.    So  also,  the  one with the two
                   talents gained two more.  But the man who  had received the one talent went off, dug
                   a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.   "After a long  time  the  master  of
                   those   servants   returned  and  settled  accounts with them.    The  man  who  had
                   received  the  five  talents  brought the other  five.  `Master,'  he  said,   `you
                   entrusted  me  with five talents.  See, I have gained five more.'

                    "His master replied, `Well done, good and faithful  servant!    You  have  been
                   faithful  with   a few things; I will put  you in charge of many  things.  Come  and
                   share your master's happiness!'   "The man with the two  talents  also
                   came.  `Master,'  he said, `you entrusted me with two talents; see, I  have  gained
                   two more.'

                        "His  master  replied,  `Well  done, good and  faithful servant! You have been
                   faithful with a few things;  I  will  put  you  in  charge of many things.  Come and
                   share your master's happiness!'  "Then  the  man who had received the
                   one talent came.  `Master,' he  said,  `I  knew  that you are a hard man, harvesting
                   where you have  not  sown  and  gathering where  you have not scattered seed,  So I
                   was afraid and  went  out  and  hid  your  talent  in the ground.  See, here is what
                   belongs to you.'

                        "His  master  replied,  `You wicked, lazy servant!  So you knew that I harvest
                   where  I have not sown and gather where I  have not scattered seed?  Well then,  you
                   should  have put my money on deposit with  the bankers, so that when  I  returned  I
                   would   have  received  it  back  with interest.  Take  the talent from him and give
                   it to  the one who has the  ten  talents.  For everyone  who has will be given more,
                   and he will have  an  abundance.  Whoever does  not  have, even what he has will be
                   taken from him.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where
                   there will be  weeping  and  gnashing  of teeth.'     (Matthew     25:14-30,    New

                   International Version).
     Jesus again told a story about a man who entrusted money
         to  his  three  servants  (Greek, DOULOS, "slaves") before he
         went on a journey.  He gave one five talents, one two talents
         and  one one talent, each according to his ability.  A talent
         was not a coin, but a weight of money  sometimes measured  in
         coins  or  bars  of  gold  or  bullion.  (TASKER, TYNDALE NEW

              The  man  left  home  and  immediately the servant  with
         five talents put his master's money to work and  gained  five
         more  talents.  Likewise, the servant with two talents gained
         two more. However, the servant with one talent dug a hole and
         buried his talent.

    After a long period of time, the  master  returned  home
         and began to settle accounts with his servants.  The  servant
         who  gained  the five talents was commended by his master and
         given  more responsibility.    The  servant  who  gained  two
         talents was treated the same.

              The man who received one talent and had not  gained  any
         for his master tried to excuse himself by blaming his master:
         "You are a hard man and I was afraid to fail, so I  hid  your
         talent--here it is." (Paraphrased).

    His master  reprimanded  him,  "Then,  you  should  have
         deposited  my  money in a secure bank to earn interest.  Take
         his talent and give it to my faithful servant  with  the  ten
         talents.  Put him out of my house!"  (Paraphrased).

                                   The Interpretation
    Jesus told this parable to "the innermost circle of  his
         most trusted disciples."  (Trench, NOTES ON THE  PARABLES  OF
         OUR LORD, p. 91).  However, this parable is to all believers,  as well as
        to the Twelve Apostles.

              The symbols and the realities to which they refer are: 

              1. The master          Jesus
              2. The servants       Christians
              3. The journey        Period of time between the  First
                                           and Second Coming of Christ
              4. The Talents         Gifts that Jesus gives Christians

    While  Jesus is away, he has entrusted the Gospel to us.
         He has also  given  us  different gifts and he  expects us to
         exercise our gifts in proclaiming the Gospel to needy humans.
              In  the  parable,  Jesus   uses  the  words,  "good  and
         faithful"  in  describing  the  two faithful servants.  Earle

                   All  can have   these   qualities   regardless
              wheher poor  or  rich,  uneducated  or  brilliantly
              intellectual.   God requires this in everyone: GOOD
              in character, FAITHFUL in service.  (Earle,  BEACON
              BIBLE COMMENTARY, pp. 226 ff.). 

  Concerning  the  one-talent  servant,  Jesus  calls  him
         "wicked  and  lazy."  The one-talent servant projects his own
         internal  state  on  his  master  and calls him "a hard man."
         (People who have a particular moral failure tend to see  that
         particular  moral  failure  in  others).  He rationalized his
         failure.  Earle quotes the French proverb,

                            QUI S'EXCUSE S'ACCUSE.
                (Earle, BEACON BIBLE COMMENTARY, pp. 226 ff.).
      There  is  also  a  natural principle that parallels the
         lesson of the one-talent servant:

                              USE IT OR LOSE IT!

         Our  muscles  will atrophy if we do not use them.  If we fail
         to use any mental or motor skill over a period of time,  then
         it will become harder and harder to use that skill.  The more
         we use our  brains,  the  less  chance  we  have  of  getting
         Alzheimer's's Disease at midlife or later years.
              Barclay sees four lessons in this parable: 

              1.  God gives people different gifts.
              2.  The reward of work well done is still more work
                  to do [and more responsibility!].
              3.  The  person  who  is punished is the person who
                  will not try.
              4.  More  shall  be given to the one who has and to
                  the  one  who  has  little,  even that shall be
                  taken away. (Barclay, DAILY BIBLE STUDY SERIES,
                  MATTHEW, p. 356).

                              Central Truth
                WATCH FOR JESUS' COMING.
Life is short.  It is of utmost importance to ask God to
examine our hearts.  He alone can see us  objectively--as
we really  are.    If  we are not using our gifts for his glory,
then let us ask him to help us begin immediately to use those
gifts for his glory and to help people. END.