The Kingdom of Heaven is like… – Part 11

This is the last Kingdom of Heaven (KoH) parable in Matthew…

“For it is [the KoH] just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 25:14-30

This parable has three main players:

  1. The Master – Jesus
  2. The three servants who are broken down into two categories:
    1. Good and Faithful
    2. Wicked

This parable seems to play out in a pretty obvious way, but let me make a couple of observations.

1. The three servants are all given different amounts, which suggests that not everyone is given the same load. Perhaps, given what one can handle.
2. The two servants who are good and faithful are given similar rewards, which shows a type of equality.
3. The wicked servant is cast into the outer darkness, obviously not a Christian.
4. This parable also appears to be about the second coming of Christ.
5. This parable has very little to do with financial responsibility–not that financial responsibility is not taught elsewhere, I just do not think it is being taught here.

The only lasting question is, who do the slaves represent? Jews? Gentiles? Saved? Lost? I am not sure if we can specifically answer this question. It does not really appear to be the scope of the parable anyway, so let’s just leave it as a “mystery.”

Comments

  1. Alan Knox says

    Lew,

    This is a very interesting parable, and I agree with you. I have always wondered about the third servant. Does he represent a follower of Christ or not? He is given reponsibilities by Christ – some would even say the “talent” represents “spiritual gifts”. While I’m not sure about that connection, it is possible. The third servant “knows” the master. Anyway, this seems to indicate a follower of Christ.

    However, the third servant does not “produce fruit”. And, he is cast into outer darkness. This indicates he was not a follower of Christ.

    What do you think?

    -Alan

  2. Alan,

    You have come to the same conclusions that I have come to in my studying this passage. Perhaps I should not say conclusions, rather, you have come to the same paradox as I :).

    Actually, this parable took me the longest to post because I had thought about the issue for so long.

    The personal conviction I have come to is that this person is not a saved person, else it would be possible for a saved person to lose their salvation. I think there are numerous texts and implications from texts which disagree with this possibility. So at the very most, I might say that this is a non-Christian among Christians, perhaps even a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Thanks for the comment,
    Lew

  3. Heather says

    Interesting … I’ve honeslty never thought about it before! But Lew, I am leaning towards what you have said after reading and thinking about it. It makes sense to me that the one with 1 talent is a Jew, perhaps even a Pharisee. Are all the other “Kingdom of Heaven is like …” parables about Jews and Gentiles?

  4. I like this parable because of the challenge it presents to obey the Lord and be about the work He has for me.

    I agree that if the one talent guy was a Christian then the parable implies we need to work our way toward salvation.

    I guard against filtering the Bible through my doctrines. I want to be open to what the Bible teaches and if I already have ideas of what the passage means then I may miss something.

    So I accept the parable as written to me but I also don’t throw out salvation by grace. Which means I don’t know all the answers. But I also don’t ignore God’s will for my life.

    Scott

  5. Heather

    From what I have studied, I would not say that all KoH parables have Jew/Gentile relationships in mind. Alot of them do, but I think some like the Pearl Merchant and the Field purchaser parables have more to do with the Son of God and the Saved. I plan on writing a post soon with all of the thinks we have learned in this series. Hopefully it will be a helpful guide in future studies of these parables.

    Scott

    Welcome to The Pursuit. You have made an excellent observation about obeying our Lord.

    I agree, we do need to be careful about filtering the Bible with our theology. I try to dump (or at least recognize) as many presuppositions as I can before coming to any text.

    With that said, I believe that I have a pretty solid Biblical foundation for the perseverance of the saints. So I would say that I used the more clear, direct passages to help me interpret this passage which is less clear and less direct. Plus, we have to consider that this is a parable, which seemingly has javascript:void(0)
    Publish Your Commentlittle to do with the idea of security in salvation.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew

  6. bryan riley says

    I’ve seen the talents as more about investing your whole life – becoming that living sacrifice – than money or anything else. Those who do are the good and faithful servants and God multiplies the investment. Those who don’t, and who obviously have an errant view of the Master, are the ones who are cast out.

    I really like the Minas parable, where they all get the same – 1 mina – but one has a 1000% return on his investment. Wow!

  7. Bryan,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree with the conclusions you have drawn from this parable. The minas parable is very interesting too, and I think it gets more to the point that you have made in your comment. We need to invest our lives into Him; doing so will bring great reward.

    Well it is not even 4:30 AM… my dogs just woke me up to go outside… so I’m going back to bed!

    Thanks for stopping by and goodnight,
    Lew

  8. Alan Knox says

    Lew,

    These are great comments! I wish you could have gotten the same interaction on all of your kingdom of heaven posts. Maybe next time…

    I definitely agree that we should examine each passage apart from our presuppostions, as much as possible. I liked Bryan’s idea that the talents represent a person’s life. I’m going to think through that one some more.

    Keep up the great posts!

    -Alan

  9. Alan,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I agree, there has been excellent interaction in this post for this series. They have been very thought provoking and challenging – which is what the pursuit is all about. Well good night, thanks for stopping by.

    God’s Glory,
    Lew