The Parable of the Talents
Matthew 25:14-30
For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.…

This parable is naturally associated with that of the ten virgins. In both we have the time for preparation, the crisis of judgment, the differences of conduct, and subsequent results. But this second parable treats of higher responsibilities and graver issues. Here we have a specific trust; the duty is more than watching, it is diligent working; and the rewards and punishments are proportionately greater. We pass from the joys of the kingdom and the possibility of missing them, to the serious duties of the kingdom and the great honours and heavy penalties that follow obedience and negligence.


1. The significance of the talents. This parable has given a secondary meaning to the very word "talent" in the literature of Christendom - a meaning which has come to supersede its original application, so that a talent with us is not a sum of money, but a power or faculty, and a talented person is a person highly endowed with natural gifts. In the large use of the word by our Lord the talent is anything that gives scope and facility for service - intellect, wealth, position, etc.

2. The variety of the talent. Some are more richly endowed than others. Nothing is mere false to nature than the doctrinaire theory of equality. There is the greatest possible inequality, not only in the distribution of property - which is often owing to man's injustice, but in the providential bestowal of personal gifts.

3. The trust of the talents. The owner takes a journey into another country, and leaves his property with his servants. God is not really absent, but his presence is not apparent, and he leaves scope and freedom for the right use of what he has entrusted to men.


1. The diligent servants. Two do their best with what is committed to their charge, and work equally well, each just doubling his capital.

(1) God expects active service, and not merely negative innocence.

(2) Our powers and faculties are not our own; they are to be used for God.

(3) These gifts grow with use, and to ourselves the natural and the chief result of diligent service is the enlargement of our own powers.

(4) The best service must be proportionate to our natural gifts. The man with two talents can only make two more, not five; yet be works as well as his more gifted companion.

2. The slothful servant. This man had but one talent. If he had possessed more he might have been inspired to some enthusiasm.

(1) There is a temptation to neglect small gifts.

(2) It is wicked to be slothful.

(3) Inability is no excuse for indolence, because all have some powers for service.

III. THE FINAL ACCOUNT. This must be rendered. The owner will return to his estate, though he may be long absent. God will call all his servants to account for the use they make of their powers and opportunities.

1. The reward of fidelity.

(1) This is for faithfulness in service, not merely in keeping what is committed to us.

(2) It takes the form of a larger trust.

2. The punishment of indolence. The idle man has his excuse, but it is a false one. The Master does not reap where he has not sown; for he gave the talents which were to be the seed of more wealth.

(1) Neglected gifts are withdrawn. If we will not use our faculties, we shall lose them.

(2) The indolent servant is east into darkness and despair. He might have done well. Not positive sin alone, but neglect to do our duty in God's service, will be heavily punished. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

WEB: "For it is like a man, going into another country, who called his own servants, and entrusted his goods to them.

The Parable of the Talents
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