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


Matthew 25:14-30


Jesus’ Parable of the Talents calls the disciple community to trustful obedience in its imaginative and confident use of the master’s resources while it waits for the return of the Son of Man.


The parable of the talents reinforces the message of responsible waiting for the return of the master. Again in somewhat allegorical fashion, the “master” (described as such nine times in this parable) “goes away” and “hands over” his property to his slaves (25:14), entrusting to them five, two, and one talent respectively While the master is away the first two slaves use their talents to double the original amount. The third slave, however, just buries the talent in the ground. When the master returns he commends the first two for being “good” and “trustworthy” (25:21, 23) and with words of joy rewards them accordingly. The third slave admits his inactivity but turns it into an accusation about the character of the master: one who is harsh and reaps where he does not sow. The concluding statement of the parable confirms this judgment of the “worthless” slave, since even the one talent is taken from him and he is thrown out in judgment.

The images of the parable’s conclusion are indeed harsh and full of judgment and accountability. The emphasis on the “master” in the parable and the contrasting responses of the slaves invites reflection on how this disciple community will regard this time of waiting. Will it wait in confidence and obedience that leads to responsible and imaginative action with the master’s resources, or will it wait in fear and dread of a harsh master and with a careful and non-risk-taking existence that simply hoards what it sees as a puny trust.