Harmony of the Gospels

 -Tuesday-
Mount of Olives
(13) Olivet Discourse Continued
Scriptures: Matthew 25:14-30   

PART 13.2: PARABLE OF THE TEN TALENTS                                                     


Parable of the Ten Talents

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.
15 “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
16 “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.
17 “And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.
18 “But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.
19 “After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’
21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
22 “He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’
23 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
25 ‘And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.
27 ‘So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.
28 ‘Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.
30 ‘And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


Introduction

The Parable of the Talents illustrates the tragedy of wasted opportunities and ties together readiness for Jesus’ return with responsible activity. In studying this passage, take note of the following about faithfulness:
• “Talents” here represent privileges and opportunities given us to serve the purposes of the kingdom of God. Verse 15 answers the question, “How are such opportunities distributed to us?”
• Verses 16 and 17, answer another question; “What is expected of us if we’re to be deemed faithful, responsible kingdom workers?”
• Verses 18 and 24–27, answer yet another question; “What constitutes a lack of faithfulness to the Master’s work?”


Commentary

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.

What is God’s kingdom like? That is the subject of the Parable of the Talents. By comparing the Parable of the Ten Virgins (vs. 1-13) with this parable, we discover the distinguishing features of each. We have here [TL1]talents committed to three servants; this implies that we are in a condition of work and concern, as the former parable implies that we are in a state of expectancy. That substantiates the necessity for habitual preparation, and this parable bears out the necessity for actual diligence in our present work and service. The former one has stirred us up to do good works for the good of our own souls; in this one we are urged to lay out ourselves for the glory of God and the good of others.
In this parable:
1. The lord is Christ, who is the absolute Owner and Administrator of all persons and things, and in a special way of his church; all things are delivered into His hands.
2. The servants are Christians, who have been born into His house, bought with His money, devoted to His praise, and employed in His work. Paul often calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:24)[1].
3. The journey to the far country represents the long period between His First and Second Coming.

We have three things, in general, in this parable:
I. The trust committed to these servants. Their lord dolled out his goods to them. He wanted them to work (Christ doesn’t want His servants to be idle); therefore, He left them something to work on. Note, Christ’s servants receive everything they have from him, since they themselves are worth nothing, and they don’t have any thing they can call their own but sin.
2. Those things we receive from Christ are given to enable us to work for him. Our privileges are intended to be used to keep us busy. The Holy Spirit is given to every true Christian to benefit their service for Him.
3. Whatever we receive is to be used for Christ. Our property is vested in him; we are but tenants upon his land and stewards of his manifold grace (1 Pt. 4:10)[2].

Now observe here, on what occasion this trust was committed to these servants? It was prior to the lord travelling into a far country. This is explained in Ephesians 4:8[3]. When he ascended on high, He gave gifts to men. When Christ went to heaven, He was the same as a man travelling into a far country; that is, he went with a purpose and He was to be away for a great while.

Before He went, He furnished his church with everything it would need during his personal absence. He committed to His church truths, laws, promises and powers; these were the great deposit (1 Tim. 6:20[4]; 2 Tim. 1:14[5]), the good thing that is committed to us. Then He sent His Spirit to enable His servants to teach and profess those truths, to enforce and observe those laws, to improve and apply those promises, and to exercise and make use of those powers. This is how, Christ, at his ascension, left his goods to his church.

15 “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.

How does the man determine how much of his goods each servant will receive? As I explained in the previous verse, “talents,” as used here, does not refer to abilities people possess. Instead it is a unit of exchange, which later became a coin. In the parable, talents represent unspecified opportunities for service in the kingdom of God.

In what proportion was the talents given? Christ’s gifts are rich and valuable, and the purchases of his blood beyond evaluation. He gave to some more, and to others less; to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. He gave to each one according to his ability to make use of it and add to his assets. It has been said that “When Divine Providence has made a difference in men’s ability, divine grace dispenses spiritual gifts accordingly, but still the ability itself is from Christ.

Notice that everyone had at least one talent, and that is not a small sum for a poor servant to begin with. We all have a soul of our own; it is the one talent we are entrusted with, and it will discover our need to work for God and others. It is the duty of a man to make himself beneficial to those around him. A man that is useful to others may be deemed a good man.

All of the servants did not get the same amount, because they did not have the same abilities and opportunities. For that reason, all of them are not expected to produce the same results, but all are to be faithful with what they have had entrusted to them. God is a free Agent, giving to every man individually as he determines. Some are cut out for service of one kind, while others are cut out for another.

When the householder had settled his affairs, he immediately took his journey. Our Lord Jesus, when He had given commandments to His apostles, went to heaven like a man in a hurry.

16 “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.
17 “And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.

Two of the servants did well. They were diligent and faithful and they put the money they were entrusted with, to the use for which it was intended. They increased their Lord’s wealth through shrewd trading.  A Christian does not have anything to trade except what has been given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ - - reason, wit, learning.  We must use what God has endowed us with.  We must also use what the world has given to us-- wealth, recognition, attention, power, and advancement to honor our Lord. Everything, but especially, the gifts and graces of the Spirit must be exercised; and this is trading with our talents.

The two servants were successful; they doubled their money in a short time. Trading with our talents is not always successful for some, but, the true child of God will always find it successful (Isa. 49:4)[6].

Notice, the profits were in proportion to the amount each man received.
(1.) From those to whom God has given five talents, he expects an increase of five. God has given some greater and more gifts than others, and that makes their responsibility greater. They must always be watchful, so they don’t fail to use them for the purpose they are intended.
(2.) From those to whom God has given two talents, he expects only an increase of two. That encourages people like me who have very little talent, and a small sphere of usefulness. The reason we are encouraged is this: if we make the effort to do good according to the best of our abilities and opportunities, God will reward us, even though we don’t do as much good as others.

18 “But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.

The third servant did not do as well as the other two. He had received one talent, but instead of following the other’s example and investing it, he hid his lord’s money. Although the parable represents just one of the three as unfaithful, history paints a different picture. We find a disproportionate number who have gone the other way. When ten lepers were cleansed, nine of ten hid the talent and only one returned to give thanks (Lu. 17:17-18)[7]. In this case, the unfaithful servant was the one who had only one talent: no doubt there are many that have five talents, and bury them all. Some have great abilities and great advantages, and yet, they don’t do anything good with them; but Christ has implied:
(1.) That if the servant with one talent is deemed to be unfaithful for burying that one, how much more will the other two servants who have been given more, and bury them be judged to be guilty. If the one that had only a little ability was cast into utter darkness because he did not increase what he had, what do you suppose will happen to those who trample under foot the great advantages, God has given them?
(2.) That those who have the least to do for God, frequently do just enough to get by. Some use these excuses for their laziness, “I do not have the opportunities for serving God that others have” or “I do not have the wherewithal to do what they say I should.” They will not do what they know they can do, and so they sit down and do nothing. It is really aggravating, when they have only one talent to care about and they manage to neglect that one.

He dug in the earth, and hid the talent, for fear it might be stolen. He did not spend it unwisely, embezzle it, or squander it away; but he hid it. Money is like manure, it is good for nothing in a pile, but it must be spread to enrich the soil; and it is the same with spiritual gifts; many have them, but don’t use them for the purpose for which they were given to them. Those that have wealth and property, and give nothing to charity; that have power and importance, and do not promote religion in the community where they live; ministers that have great capability and opportunities for doing good, but do not use the gift that is in them, are those slothful servants that seek their own things more than Christ’s.

He hid his lord’s money, but if it had been his own he might have spent it as he pleased. Remember, whatever abilities and advantages we have, they are not our own, we are just stewards of them, and must give account to our Lord, whose goods they are.

19 “After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

After a long time the lord ... came back and settled accounts with them. This depicts the Second Coming. The first two received exactly the same commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” The value of their service was not tied to how much they earned, but to how hard they tried. Both used his ability fully and earned one hundred percent. These two represent true believers whose reward is to enjoy the blessings of the kingdom.

“After a long time” suggests the Second Coming will be delayed for a long time. But He will come and there will be an accounting:
1. The accounting has been deferred for a long time, but that doesn’t mean that the master neglects his affairs, or that God is slack concerning his promise (2 Pt. 3:9)[8]. no, he is ready to judge (1 Pt. 4:5)[9]; but every thing must be done in its time and order.
2. Yet the day of accounting will come at last. The lord of those servants will ask for an accounting. Note, the stewards of the manifold grace of God must give an account of their stewardship, before long. We must all be judged by Christ—what good we have done for Him, and what good we have done for others with the advantages we have enjoyed.

20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’

Christ’s faithful servants acknowledge with thankfulness His blessings and Gifts of grace. Note the following:
1. It is good to keep an account of the things we receive from God, so we will remember them and know what is expected from us, and then to do what He wants.
2. We must never look upon our accomplishments without first giving God the credit for our abilities and thanking Him for how He has favored us and honored us by entrusting us with His goods, and for His grace which is the source of all the good that is in us or is done by us. For the truth is, the more we do for God, the more we are indebted to Him for making use of us, and enabling us to serve Him.
3. Faithful servants produce, as an evidence of their faithfulness, what they have attained. Note, God’s good stewards have something to show for their diligence; “Show me thy faith by thy works.” If he is a good man, let him show it [TL3](Jam. 3:13)[10]. If our spirituality is what it should be, good works will flow from it (Rev. 14:13)[11]. On that day when the saints are judged they will not mention their own good deeds; no, Christ will do that for them; but in 1 John 2:28–4:17, it is implied that those who faithfully use their talents for God’s kingdom will have boldness in the day of Christ. And the servant who had just two talents, will give his report as cheerfully as the one who had five; because we will be judged according to our faithfulness, not according to our usefulness; our sincerity, not our success; according to the uprightness of our hearts, not according to the extent of our opportunities.

21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
22 “He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’
23 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

Here we have the master’s recognition and approval of their report.

First, He commended them; “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The diligence and integrity of those who prove themselves to be good and faithful servants of Jesus Christ, will certainly receive praise, and honor, and glory, at his appearing [TL4](1 Pt. 1:7)[12]. Those that have Christ and honor God now, will be honored by Him shortly.
1. They will be accepted; “Thou good and faithful servant.” The Lord, who knows the integrity of his servants now, will witness to it on that great day; and the faithful will be called “the faithful of God.” Perhaps they were ridiculed by men for being too religious; but Christ will reward their faithfulness as good and faithful servants.
2. Their performances will be accepted; Christ will say, “Well done,” to those, and only those, good servants, that have done well; because it is by patient continuance in well-doing that we seek for this glory and honor; and if we seek, we shall find. If we do that which is good, and do it well, we will receive praise for it. Some masters are so glum, that they will not commend their servants for anything, even though they do their work so very well. But Christ will commend his servants that do well; whether men do or not. If our Master praises our good efforts, what does it matter that men do not. If he says, “Well done,” we are happy, and it does not matter much what men think. A man may pay himself great compliments and his neighbors say good things about him, and that is as far as it goes, but when the Lord commends a man it is heard in heaven by angels and saints.

Secondly, He rewards them. The faithful servants of Christ will be rewarded for all their work and labor of love.
Now this reward is expressed in two ways.
1. In a way that is in agreement with the parable; “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.” It is customary in the palace of princes, and families of great men, to promote those to higher offices, that have been faithful in a lower position. Note, Christ is a master that will have high regard for his servants who faithfully serve Him. Christ has honors in store for those that honor him—a crown (2 Tim. 4:8)[13], a throne (Rev. 3:21)[14], a kingdom, (Matt. 25:34)[15]. Here they are beggars; in heaven they will be rulers. The upright shall have power and authority. Christ’s servants are all princes.

Have you perceived the disparity between the work of the saints and their reward? There are just a few ways in which the saints can glorify God, but there are many ways that God can glorify them. The good things we receive from God for the work we do for Him in this world are very little, compared with the joy set before us. All our service, all our sufferings, all our progress, all the good we do for others, all we get for ourselves, put together are next to nothing, when compared with the glory to be revealed.

2. In another expression from the parable that is what we want to hear Jesus say, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord?” There are three things about this particular joy that I want you to see:
(1.) The state of glorified believers is a state of joy, not only because all their tears have been wiped away, but because all the springs of comfort and joy are released to them. Where there is the presence of God, the perfection of holiness, and the society of the blessed, there will be the fullness of joy.
(2.) This joy is the joy of their Lord; the joy which he himself has purchased and provided for them; the joy of the redeemed, bought with the sorrow and suffering of the Redeemer. It is the joy which Jesus Himself possesses, and which he longed for when he endured the cross, and despised the shame (Heb. 12:2)[16]. It is the joy of our Lord, for it is joy in the Lord, who is our exceeding joy. Abraham was not willing that the steward of his house, though faithful, should be his heir (Gen. 15:3)[17]; but Christ admits his faithful stewards into his own joy, to be joint-heirs with him.
(3.) Glorified saints shall enter into this joy and possess it. The joy of the Lord enters into the saints and they will possess it forever.

24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
25 ‘And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

What is the response of the third servant and why?

“A hard man” has the idea of a person who exploits his servants.
Here we are given the information concerning the third servant, who appears to be a lazy man.  Although he only received one talent, he must account for that one.   The smallness of our gift will not excuse us from a reckoning.  No one will be required to account for more than they have received; but we must account for what we have.

First, notice what he confides in.  He comes to his master with a lot of confidence, thinking that he can make a plea that will justify his actions.  It could go something like this, “Here is your money back.  If I have not made it more, as others have, at least I can say I have not made it less.” He hopes that this will at least keep him safe, even if it does not earn him praise.

Many will go to the judgment, presuming that the Lord will accept their plea, but He will call it vain and frivolous.  The servant thought that his account would be good enough, because he could say, “There you have what belongs to you.” Many that are called Christians will build great hopes for heaven upon their being able to make such a statement. They may say, “Lord I have done a lot of good things for people, I have supported my church, I have been baptized and I take communion, I live by the Sermon on the Mount; yet all this amounts to no more than, ‘There, you have what is yours;’ as if no more were required, or could be expected from them.

Secondly, notice what he admits. He admits that he buried his talent; “I hid your talent in the ground.” He talks as if he did the best thing; as if he deserved praise for his good sense in putting it in a safe place, and taking no risks with it.

Thirdly, notice what excuse he uses. “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, and I was afraid.” Good thoughts of God would result in love, and that love would make us hard-working and faithful; but bad thoughts of God bring about fear, and that fear makes us lazy and unfaithful. His excuse is like:
1. The sentiments of an enemy--I knew that you are a hard man. Note, [TL5]Carnal hearts are apt to conceive false and bad opinions concerning God, and harden themselves in their evil ways. Notice how confidently he speaks; “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man.” How could he know him to be a hard man? Doesn’t he cause the sun to shine, and his rain to fall, upon the evil and unthankful, and fills their hearts with gladness, after they say to Him, “Get away from us.” It is the common practice of wicked people to cast all the blame upon God, as if all the blame for their sin and downfall lay at His door.
2. The spirit of a slave; “I was afraid.” This type of feeling toward God arose from his false notions of Him; and nothing is more undeserving of God, and hinders our service for him, than slavish fear. This has bondage and torment connected to it, and is directly opposite to that great love which the great commandment requires. Note, hard thoughts of God drive us from Him, and hamper us in our service for Him. This servant was blind to the fact his master was a generous, loving man, who wanted him to participate in wonderful joys.  He was no doubt an unbeliever, since no genuine servant would entertain such thoughts of his Master. 

The great mistake of the unfaithful servant was in misjudging the character of his Master. He could not have known the Master well enough to assume him to be severe and merciless. Atkinson observes, “The slave seems to have thought that whatever he did his master would be unjust to him.” He failed to understand the real generosity of his Master who wanted him to experience the joys of service. Whereas the Parable of the Ten Virgins emphasized personal preparation for the coming of Christ, the Parable of the Talents stresses the importance of faithful service during His present absence.

26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.
27 ‘So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.

His lord reprimands him, calling him wicked and lazy.

If he thought his master was unfair and such a hard man, why hadn’t he deposited his money with the [TL6]bankers to earn interest?  Note, although Israelites were forbidden to extract interest from each other, they could do so from gentiles (Deut.  23: 20), therefore, these servants may have been gentiles.  Incidentally, in verse 26, the master is not agreeing with the accusation against him. Rather he is saying, “If that’s the kind of master you thought I am, all the more reason to have put the talent to work. Your words condemn, not excuse you.”

The charge made against the servant is two-fold:
1. He is lazy. You wicked and lazy servant. Lazy servants are bad servants, and will be treated as such by their master. This type of servant is said to be like someone who does evil things that God has forbidden (Prov. 18:9)[17]. The man that is indifferent in God’s work is like the man that is busy doing the devil’s work. Slothfulness leads to wickedness; we are all guilty in this respect, for there is none that doeth good (Ps. 14:3)[18]. When the house is empty, the unclean spirit takes possession. Those that are idle due to cold indifference are not only idle, but something worse [TL7](1 Tim. 5:13). When men sleep, the enemy sows tares.
2. He contradicts himself. “You knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers.” The awful thoughts which sinners have of God, will never justify their wickedness and laziness, but instead, will aggravate and add to their guilt. 

There are three ways this may be taken:
a. "Suppose I had been such a hard a master, shouldn’t you therefore have tried harder to please me?’’
b. "If you thought of me as being a hard master, and did not invest my money for fear of losing it, and having to pay it back, you could have put it into the hands of the banker. Then, when I returned, I would have interest to add to the talent I gave you.” That it seems, was a common practice at that time, and not prohibited by our Savior. If we can not find it in our hearts to involve ourselves in more difficult and hazardous services, how could we justify ourselves for avoiding those duties which are more safe and easy? Something is better than nothing; and our master will not reject the small things we do for Him.
c. "Suppose I did reap where I sowed not, what’s that to you, for I have sowed to you in the past? Besides, the talent was my money which I entrusted with you, not only to keep, but to invest.’’

When the wicked and lazy servant stands at the Bema Seat to give an account of what he has done with his life, he will be left without an excuse; frivolous pleas will be overruled, and every mouth will be stopped; and those who now stand so much upon their own justification will not have one word to say for themselves.

28 ‘Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.

The lazy servant is sentenced:
1. To be deprived of his talent. “Therefore take the talent from him.” He takes it from the unfaithful servant, to punish him, and gives it to the faithful servant, to reward him. And the Lord gives the meaning of this part of the parable in the sentence, “To everyone who has, more will be given.” This may be applied:
a. To the blessings of this life—worldly wealth and possessions. We are entrusted with these, to be used for the glory of God, and the good of others. Now a man that has these things, and uses them for these ends, will be blessed with an abundance of the things themselves, and of better things. But they will be taken from the person who has these things, and chooses to not use them. Solomon explains this in Proverbs 11:24[20]. Giving to the poor is using what we have, and the rewards will be rich; it will multiply the meal in the barrel, and the oil in the cruse: but those that are stingy, and heartless, will find that those riches they gain in a sordid way will perish (Eccl. 5:13-14)[21].
b. To the means of grace. Those who are diligent in taking advantage of the opportunities for service that they have, will be given even more opportunities by God (Rev. 3:8)[22].
c. To the gifts of the Spirit. The man that has these, and does good with them, will have abundance. These gifts improve with use; the more we do, the more we can do. But those who do not apply the gift that is in them or do not use it according to their capacity; their gifts rust, and decay, and go out like a neglected fire. 
If this man had earned one talent with his talent, he would have received the same commendation as the others. Instead, all he had to show for his life was a hole in the ground! His talent was taken and given to the man with ten talents. This follows a fixed law in the spiritual realm: “To everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Those who desire to be used for God’s glory are given the means. The more they do, the more they are enabled to do for Him. Conversely, we lose what we don’t use. Atrophy is the reward of laziness.

Unfortunately, some believers are not fit for bold and independent service in behalf of the kingdom; however, they may link their incapacity to the capacity and wisdom of others who will make their gifts and possessions of use to the Master and His Church. The steward has money, or it may be that he has other gifts that can be made use of, but he lacks faith and good sense. The Lord’s “faithful” can show him how to get gain for the Master. . . .The Church partly exists so that the strength of one member may help the weakness of another, and that by the cooperation of all, the power of the least and weakest may be increased. 

30 ‘And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

He is sentenced to be cast into outer darkness. Here,
1. His character is that of an unprofitable servant. Slothful servants will be judged to be unprofitable servants, who do nothing, after coming into the world, that would further the kingdom or give glory to God. A slothful servant is a withered member in the body, a barren tree in the vineyard, an idle drone in the hive, he is good for nothing. In one sense, we are all unprofitable servants [TL8](Lu. 17:10)[23]; we cannot profit God, [TL9](Job 22:2)[24]. But to others, and to ourselves, it is required that we are profitable; if we are not, Christ will not have us as His servants: it is not enough not to hurt anyone, but we must do good, must bring forth fruit, and though God is not profited by anything we do, yet he is glorified (Jn. 15:8)[25].
2. Outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, is, in Christ’s sermon, the common abode of the damned in hell. Their situation is:
a. Very dismal; it is outer darkness. Darkness is uncomfortable and frightful: it was one of the plagues of Egypt. In hell there are chains of darkness (2 Pt. 2:4)[26]. In the dark no man can work. It is outer darkness, away from the light of heaven, away from the joy of the Lord, into which the faithful servants were admitted; away from the feast.
b. Very miserable; there is weeping, which speaks of great sorrow, and gnashing of teeth, which speaks of great aggravation and resentment. This will be the lot of the slothful servant
The fact that the last man is called wicked and slothful and an unprofitable servant, who is cast out into outer darkness, certainly indicates that he was not a true disciple of the Master. The idea of this illustrative parable is that all true believers will produce results (elsewhere called “fruits”) in varying degrees. Those who produce no results are not truly converted. Those who hide their treasure (probably, the life-changing message of the gospel), because of a harsh view of the Master’s sovereignty over them, reveal that they do not really love people and, therefore, their own salvation is questionable.

There is an important point here: What God has promised will come to pass. Our time is to be spent in the service of our absent Lord who has entrusted his possessions to us.  Christ the king has entrusted to us this unexpected and unprophesied form of His kingdom.

 

Scripture References

[1] And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, (2 Tim 2.24)

[2] As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Pt. 4:10).

[3] Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” (Ephesians 4:8)

[4]  O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge (1 Tim. 6:20)

 [5] That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. (2 Tim. 1:14)

[6] Then I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and in vain; yet surely my just reward is with the LORD, and my work with my God. (Isa. 49:4)

[7]  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? “Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (Lu. 17:17-18)

[8] The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Pt. 3:9)

[9] They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Pt. 4:5)

[10] Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. (Jam. 3:13)

[11] Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Rev. 14:13)

[12]  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pt. 1:7)

[13] For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. (2 Tim. 4:8)

[14] To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Rev. 3:21)

[15]  “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (Matt. 25:34)

[16]  Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)

[17] He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer. (Prov 18.9)

[18]They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one. (Lu. 17:10)

[19]  And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. (Job 22:2)

[20]  There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. (Prov 11.24)

[21]  There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: Riches kept for their owner to his hurt. But those riches perish through misfortune; when he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand. (Eccl. 5:13-14)

[22]  I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. (Rev. 3:8)

[23]  “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ” (Lk 17.10)

[24]  “Can a man be profitable to God, Though he who is wise may be profitable to himself? (Job 22:2)

[25] By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (Jn. 15:8)

[26]  For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; (2 Pt. 2:4)


Notes

[TL1]In the New Testament, a talent weight is calculated at 58 to 80 lbs. The value would differ according to the metal, but the buying power was enormous. Five talents would make one a multi-millionaire. The monetary value of one talent was $5, 760,000 gold or $384,000 silver. It was equivalent to 3,000 shekels.

[TL2]The reason for the delay in the return of Christ is not that the Lord is slack concerning his promise. This means that it is not one of God’s attributes to be slow about keeping promises, although some might consider that to be true. The thought is probably parallel to Habakkuk 2:3, where the writer says, “The prophecy awaits its time; if it seems to be slow, wait for it. It will surely come.” The reason for the delay is a different matter entirely; The Lord is long-suffering. Long-suffering is another word for “patience,” and has the idea of a deep concern and feeling for someone over an extended period of time. The reason God has delayed that final day is His patience and concern for men that they might be saved. It is made very plain in this verse that the reason for the delay is not negligence on God’s part but concern for salvation. This is also stated in a negative way: not willing that any should perish. God does not want men to be lost (He does not elect them to damnation but to salvation). He is patient because He does not want any to be lost, but wants all to come to repentance.

[TL3]A wise man may desire to manifest his knowledge through teaching, but James says let him show a changed life through works.

[TL4]The purpose toward which this command of praise is directed is that the approved character of our faith might result in praise, glory, and honor for us in that day in which Christ is revealed. Verse 7 is better translated, “So that the genuineness of their faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” It is interesting that the three words for the “approval” that God will give to those of true faith on that day are found elsewhere in Scripture with the same sense, for example I Corinthians 4:5, where Paul expresses his disinterest in the praise of men because of his forward look at the future and says, “then shall every man have praise of God.”

[TL5]CARNAL — sensual, worldly, nonspiritual; relating to or given to the crude desires and appetites of the FLESH or body. The apostle Paul contrasts “spiritual people”—that is, those who are under the control of the Holy Spirit—with those who are “carnal”—those under the control of the flesh (1 Cor. 3:1–4; Rom. 8:5–7). The word “carnal” is usually reserved in the New Testament to describe worldly Christians.

[TL6]The mention of the bankers suggests that if we cannot use our possessions for the Lord, we should turn them over to others who can. The bankers in this case may be missionaries, Bible societies, Christian publishing houses, gospel radio programs, the Gideons, etc. In a world like ours, there is no excuse for leaving money idle.

[TL7]Under divine inspiration Paul foretells that the tendency of young widows is to be idle, wandering, tattlers, busybodies. This fits with I Timothy 3:6. It should be noted that this is not always the case, but too frequently is the case.

[TL8]What should our attitude be when we have done all that God has commanded. Instead of being proud we are to be humble enough to consider ourselves as useless, because we have simply done our duty. Compare what we are to say of ourselves with what Christ says to His faithful servants at the last day (v.21).

[TL9]God is so great and complete in Himself that there is nothing we can do for Him, no need we can meet, nothing we can do to benefit him. Therefore, God could have no ulterior motive in dealing with us.

 

 

Do you have any questions or comments?

 A businessman was explaining an unusual situation that took place with his credit card. His wife’s card was stolen but he decided against reporting it to the bank because the thief was charging less than his wife.

Promise Keeper’s Conference, Houston, Texas, Aug. 22, 1998

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