The Pulpit Commentary

Matthew 25:14-30 (Matthew 25:14-30)

The parable of the talents.

I. THE MASTER AND HIS SERVANTS .

1 . The Master ' s departure. This parable is the complement of the last. The two together cover both sides of the Christian life—the contemplative and the active. The burning lamp represents the life of faith and worship kindled by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The trading represents the outward life of active work for Christ. Under all ordinary circumstances the two must be combined. A living faith cannot exist in the heart without manifesting itself in outward work; while active work for Christ's sake springs from that living faith, and loses all its worth and beauty if it becomes dissociated from faith and love. The two elements must coexist in all Christians; but they may be combined in different proportions, so that some are mainly men of action, others mainly men of contemplation. In large measure we must be both. We must keep the lamp of zeal and faith ever burning, and we must work for Christ. Christ himself was the man travelling into a far country. He was about to depart out of this world unto the Father. The parable relates primarily to the apostles, to whom it was spoken; then to the ministers of God's Holy Word and sacraments, who are his servants, who must work for him in his Church; then to all Christians, for all belong to Christ, being bought with his blood, and all have work to do for him. The Master was about to depart. He called his own servants. We must remember that those servants were not like servants now, as free as their masters. They were slaves, bought with their master's money; they belonged to him; their time, strength, ability, all were his.

2 . The Master ' s goods. He delivered his goods to his servants; they were to trade with them. Slaves often earned money for their masters in various trades or professions. He entrusted large sums to them—five talents to one, three to another, one to a third. Here we notice one of the leading distinctions between this and the cognate parable in Luke 19:12-17 . There each of the ten servants received the same sum, a pound, a mina; here the sums entrusted to the servants differ greatly. The two parables supplement one another. That in St. Luke teaches that the necessary means of grace are given in like measure to all the servants of the King. They show various degrees of zeal and diligence in the use of them. The rewards of the great day will vary according to those varying degrees of faithfulness. The parable of the talents teaches a somewhat different lesson. "There are diversities of gifts" ( 1 Corinthians 12:4 ); "God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers;" "But all these worketh one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." The talents must represent first and chiefly spiritual gifts, such as those first granted on the great Day of Pentecost, the gifts necessary for the apostles of Christ, and m various degrees for those who have been called to continue the apostles' work. Those gifts are not given to all God's servants alike. The gifts of the Spirit differ; there are great differences in energy, zeal, strength of character, spiritual eloquence. "The Spirit divideth to every man severally as he will," according to the needs of the Church, according to the capacity of the individual servant. But, secondarily, the talents must also signify all the good gifts of God—health, time, intellectual powers, earthly riches, station, influence; these and such-like are his gifts, entrusted to us for a while, to be used, not for our own enjoyment, but for his service. They are bestowed in widely different measure. Each man's responsibility varies according to the greatness of the gifts entrusted to him.

3 . The use made of them. Straightway (according to what seems to be the best arrangement of the text) he who had received five talents went and traded with them. He lost no time; he felt the greatness of his trust, and set to work at once to do his best for his lord. He was successful; he made other five talents. The second servant was equally industrious, and in proportion equally successful; each gained cent per cent; each did his master's work faithfully. The third digged in the earth and hid his lord's money. He knew that the profit of his trading would not be his own; he did not care to labour for his lord. He represents those who neglect spiritual gifts, who do not stir up the gift of God that is in them, who quench the Spirit; and secondarily, those who use the good things of this world simply for themselves, not for the glory of God and the good of their fellow men. The talent was bidden in the earth; buried amid worldly cares and worldly amusements. The unhappy man had received the grace of God in vain; he had wasted his earthly means upon his own selfish pleasures.

II. THE RECKONING .

1 . The first servant. The lord cometh after a long time (another hint that the second advent was not to be expected immediately), and reckoneth with his servants. The first, to whom five talents had been entrusted, had gained other five talents. He brings them; he attributes his gains entirely to his lord's original gifts; "Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents." He had worked; but it was the lord who had enabled him to work, who bad given him the means. He represents the few highly gifted and eminently faithful Christians, such as St. Paul, who could say, "By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." The Lord recognized his diligence: "Well done," he said, in those precious words which thrill through the Christian's heart, filling him with high and blessed hope, "Well done, good and faithful servant." It is that highest praise, the praise of God, which the Christian should desire with all his heart and soul, heeding not the praise of men. He shall have that crowning praise who hath been faithful here, who ever regards himself as the Lord's servant, set here to work for God; who regards his powers, his means, whatever they may be, as his Lord's money, to be used in his Lord's service. Those gifts are "few things." Even the five talents, the great personal gifts, the vast means of doing good, which have been bestowed on some of the Lord's servants, are "few things," very small indeed compared with the glory and the blessedness reserved for the faithful. For those faithful ones shall be admitted into "the joy of their Lord," the Lord's own joy, the joy that was set before him, for which he endured the cross, despising the shame. They shall sit with him in his throne; for he hath given them the glory which was given him of the Father. Heart of man cannot tell the entrancing rapture of that holiest joy.

2 . The second servant. He too had done his best. His gains were less than those of the first servant, but he was not so richly endowed. He had been equally faithful; he had made the best use of his humbler gifts; he was as good and holy and noble-hearted a man as his more highly gifted brother. He is welcomed with the same high praise; he receives the like reward. It is faithfulness, not gifts, which will be considered in the great day. Many men of mean capacities and poor endowments will be among the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "Many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first."

3 . The third servant. He lingered to the last; his conscience was uneasy. But he could not escape his master's eye; he must render his account. He comes at length, but not in humility and self-abasement, confessing his sinful negligence; he comes with false excuses, trying to shift the blame from himself upon his lord. He knew, he said, that his master was a hard man, harsh and exacting; he required from his servants more than they could render, more than he had enabled them to render. He feared him; he would not trade with his talent, lest in the risks and uncertainties of business he should lose some portion of it; but he had kept it safe: there it was. His master, he implied, had no right to ask for more. So men argue, or pretend to argue, now. They will not work for the glory of God or for the good of souls. The real reason is sloth, selfish sloth; they will work only for themselves. But, like the slothful servant, they have their excuses; they are unequal, they say, to the work to which God's providence seems to call them; God's demands are so large, so deep reaching; he requires more than weak human nature can give, more than ought to be expected of them. They shrink from undertaking religious work, lest by failure in that work they incur the wrath of God and bring themselves into danger. So they do nothing for God. They own that they had hidden the talent, the grace once given to them, but at any rate they had not wasted it in riotous living or lost it by misfortunes in trade. They were flee from gross offences. Their lives had been at least decent and respectable. Neither are they unbelievers; they own that the talent belonged to their Lord; he had given it them, and they would restore it. "There thou hast that is thine." They are no worse than others, they say, no worse than they have always been. They will not see that this excuse is false, that negative obedience is not sufficient. They are God's servants; they belong to him; their time, health, strength, money, intellect, are not their own; all these things are God's gifts, lent to them for a while; they must give an account of their use of them at the great day of reckoning.

4 . The judgment. "Thou wicked and slothful servant." Those most awful words put into the clearest light the solemn truth that more than freedom from gross offences is needful for salvation. The slothful servant was wicked, for he had defrauded his lord; he had not given him that service which was his bounden duty; he had lived as if he were his own master, and had only himself to please. He was wicked, too, because he made these miserable excuses; because, instead of confessing his sin, he slandered his lord. The lord repeats the servant's words in righteous indignation; he judges him out of his own mouth. If he had been such as the servant falsely said, fear, if not love, should have urged the man to do his duty. If he had feared the risks of trading, at least he should have put his lord's money to the exchangers. The returns would have been small compared with the gains of the faithful servants; but even those small returns would have shown that the servant had taken some care of his lord's interests. The Lord seems to imply that those small returns would have been accepted. Any real work for Christ is better than spiritual sloth. Some Christians are abundant in their labours; all must work if they would be saved; if they have not the energy of a St. Paul, they must help those who are foremost in Christian work with their alms and with their prayers. They must at the least show their interest in their Master's cause in this way, if they are incapable of more active exertion. And work they must, every one, in accordance with their powers. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required;" but he also to whom little is given must use that little in his Master's service. The smallness of our gifts is no excuse for sloth. The most ignorant, the very poorest, can do something for their Lord. They may do much, for the value of the work is measured by its proportion to the worker's powers. The second servant received the same reward as the first, though his earnings were in themselves far less. The poor widow's two mites were more precious in the sight of God than the costly offerings of the rich. He that doth not use his talent must lose it. God's gifts cannot be neglected with impunity. The Gift of God, if not stirred up by constant use, will be taken away. It will be given to those who have worked faithfully. Others will step into the places of the unfaithful, will do the work which they have neglected, and obtain the reward which might have been theirs if they had done their duty. For it is a law of God's kingdom that "unto every one that hath shall be given" He giveth more grace—grace for grace. Grace is ours when it is used; then it is wrought into the character; then we have it. "And to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundantly. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." He hath, and yet he hath not. God had given him that grace without which we can do nothing, but he hath not made it his own by diligent use. It must be taken from him in the righteous judgment of God. The grace of God cannot lie dormant in the heart. If it is not valued, if it is not used, it must be taken away. But the loss of the talent was not the only punishment. We hear again those dreadful words which the Lord had uttered twice already ( Matthew 8:12 ; Matthew 24:51 ), which he repeated, we may be sure, in mercy, to warn us of the sinner's doom, "Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

LESSONS .

1 . We are all God's servants; all alike have a work to do for him; all must do it.

2 . All that we have is his, whether external gifts, or personal endowments, or gifts of the Spirit; all must be used in his service.

3 . The joy of our Lord is blessed beyond the power of thought. Then work for Christ; it is faithful work, not apparent success, which determines the reward.

4 . The condemnation of the slothful servant is awful exceedingly. Then work while there is time.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Matthew 25:14-30 (Matthew 25:14-30)

The parable of the talents.

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.

I. THE TALENTS ENTRUSTED .

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.

II. THE SERVANTS ' CONDUCT .

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

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

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.

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.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Matthew 25:14-30 (Matthew 25:14-30)

The parable of the talents.

There are three parables which illustrate the relation of work and wages in the kingdom of heaven—the labourers in the vineyard, the pounds, and the talents. What this parable chiefly illustrates is that men are rewarded, not solely in proportion to the quantity of work produced, but that their ability and the means at their disposal are taken into account. And in order that this life be a fair field for the test of fidelity, two or three things are requisite, and these are noted in the parable.

I. What is committed to our trust is no trifle, but the goods of our Lord—all he has on earth—whatever can produce on earth the fruit he himself wrought for and died for. There is no interest of his carried forward without the labour of men; if his servants cease to work, his cause on earth is at an end.

II. The Master distributes his goods "according to the several ability" of his servants. Each gets what each can conveniently and effectively handle, and no one is expected to produce results out of proportion to his ability and his means.

III. It is only "after a long time that the Lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them." They are not summoned to a reckoning while yet embarrassed by the novelty of their position; they have time to consider, to wait opportunities, to try experiments. The wise have time to lay up great gains, and even the foolish to have learnt wisdom.

It is not without significance that the servant who did nothing at all for his master was he who had received but one talent. This is the peculiar temptation of the man who has little ability. By showing no interest in that situation in life that God has seen fit he should fill, he would have us believe he is qualified for a higher. You are in the same condemnation when you refuse to do anything because you cannot do a great deal; when you refuse to help where you cannot lead; when you hesitate about aiding in some work because those with whom you would be associated in it do it better and show better in the doing of it than yourself. This miserable fear of being mediocre, how many a good work has it prevented or crippled! The insolence of this man's words is not intentional. He reads off correctly his own state of mind, and fancies that his conduct is appropriate and innocent. All wrongness of conduct is at bottom based on a wrong view of God. Nothing so conduces to right action as right thoughts about God. If we think, with this servant, that God is hard, grudging to give, never really delighting in our efforts after good, and that whatever we attempt in our life he will coldly weigh and scorn, then manifestly we have no heart to labour for him. But this view of God is unpardonably wrong, for the very heartiness with which the other servants were greeted refutes it. Moreover, the action flowing from it is inconsistent. If the Master is so slow to recognize sincere effort, so oppressive in his exactions, why did you not at least put your money into the hands of men who would have found a use for it and paid you a good interest? There are numberless ways in which the most slenderly equipped among us can fulfil the suggestion here given. There is no lack of great works going on for our Lord to which we may safely attach ourselves, and in which our talent is rather invested for us than left to our o/on discretion. The parable does not acknowledge any servants who have absolutely nothing. There is something to be done which precisely you can do, something by doing which you will please him whose pleasure in you will fill your nature with gladness; it is given to you to increase your Lord's goods. See, then, that you be not burying your talent. Money is made for circulation; so is grace. Yet some men might as well have no grace for all the good it does; it is carefully wrapped up, as if encounter with the world would fret its edges and lower its value. What, then, is the result of this? The great law is enforced, "To him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." And in the kingdom of Christ this law is self-acting, as it is also in our own bodies and in all matters physical. The muscle that is unused dwindles and disappears; no one needs to come and remove it; want of use removes it. So it is with every faculty—bodily, mental, or spiritual. Yet how many think they can retain just so much godliness and no more! How many think they are hitting the right mean between over-righteousness and worldliness! This is proof that there is something radically wrong in their notion of the kingdom and work of Christ. You cannot possibly have just so much grace and no more; it must grow, or it will die. The reward is as certain, and provided for by the same great law, as the punishment. Beginning with such grace as you have, there lies before you the possibility of indefinite increase, if you do what you have power to do—resolutely crush out what you know to be your weaknesses and faults, and seek to have your whole life gathered up into some ascertained and intelligible connection with Christ. This increase of grace is itself the reward, or at any rate the essential part of it. The talents gained are left in the hands that gained them, and wider opportunities for their use afforded. The faithful servant of Christ is always entering upon his reward, and entrance into heaven only marks the point at which his Lord expresses his approval, and raises him to a position of acknowledged trustworthiness, the position of one who has acquired an interest in the work, whose joy is his Lord's joy—joy in advancing man's best interests, joy in the sight of others made righteously happy. There can be no reward more certain, for it begins here. No one need tell you there is no heaven; the kingdom of heaven is within you. It is also the best you could picture to yourself. The reward a person in sickness receives for careful attention to every prescription of his physician is that he becomes healthy. If you ask—What is it that makes life worth living, which we can set before us as our sufficient reward and aim? the answer can only be that we have the hope of becoming satisfactory persons, of becoming perfect as our Father is perfect, who needs no reward, but delights in being and doing good, who loves, and is therefore blessed.—D.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Matthew 25:14-30 (Matthew 25:14-30)

The talents.

This, like the preceding parable, refers immediately to the professed followers of Christ. It probably has a special, though certainly not exclusive, application to ministers and those distinguished by office in the Churches. We have to consider—

I. THE TALENTS .

1 . These are not the natural faculties.

2 . They are the gifts of grace and providence.

(a) the ordinary;

(b) the extraordinary.

There is a manifestation of the Spirit given to every man to profit withal.

(a) Property.

(b) Social status.

(c) Education.

(d) Patronage.

(e) Experience.

(a) Ordinances of the gospel—Bibles, sabbaths, ministers.

(b) Circumstances of Providence, or occurrences called accidents.

(c) Relationships.

(d) Time.

Every moment has its grace; every grace has its employment; every employment is for eternity. Note: A talent of silver is worth £350. All Christ's gifts are rich and valuable. They are the purchase of his precious blood.

II. THEIR CUSTODY .

1 . God gives them diversely.

2 . He gives them to be improved.

(a) To the comfort and salvation of the recipient.

(b) For the benefit of his race .

(c) For the glory of his Maker.

III. THE RECKONING .

1 . The diligent are rewarded.

2 . The indolent are punished.

(a) "Into outer darkness." All outside heaven is darkness in eternity.

(b) "There shall be weeping," etc.; misery.—J.A.M.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Matthew 25:15 (Matthew 25:15)

Christ's relation to our talent trusts.

Eastern workpeople were mostly what we should call slaves. They were provided for by their masters, and their profit belonged to their master.

I. CHRIST 'S TALENT TRUSTS . This parable is true of ordinary endowments; the common gifts and abilities of men. We are to see it in the Christian light. All our gifts, powers, and possessions are trusts, not ours to hold, only ours to use; and concerning the use of them all God will surely inquire one day. Fix thought on the special gift to us. Our talent is the one thing we can do better than others. It is the precise thing that we are sent into the world to do. No servant of Christ is without his talent. What may it be? Teach, give, sing, pray, write, visit, preach, sympathize. It is the one thing in relation to which we have the "consciousness of power." How can we know what our talent trust is? Let us put ourselves simply into God's hands, cherishing a loving readiness to do his will; then let us take and do the duty that lies before us, and our gift and power will surely be revealed to us.

II. CHRIST 'S APPORTIONMENT OF HIS TALENT TRUSTS . Masters know their servants, and give trusts accordingly. What a good thing for us it is that we have not to choose what our talent trusts shall be! There are two things for him who apportions our trusts to decide.

1 . He must make the trust match the capacity. He must not give ten where there is only capacity for dealing with five; or five where there is capacity for dealing with ten. If he has given you ten, he knows you can put the ten to good use, and you must try.

2 . The various trusts must cover all the work that he wants done. So we cannot wonder if some forms of service are lowly forms—in business, home, society, or Church. Lowly gifts are needful. Lowly offices are important. The use of Christ-entrusted gifts, anywhere, or in anything, makes the sphere and the work beautiful. "One talent" represents the lowly gifts. Just the very power you have Christ wants for his kingdom. Men may call your gift nothing, and so may you in dreary times. But the Lord Jesus never undervalues any of the trusts he commits to his people. And you should never undervalue your trust until your Master does.

III. CHRIST 'S EXPECTATIONS CONCERNING HIS TALENT TRUSTS . He looks for two things, as gain by trading.

1 . Service by the use of them. We are to benefit others by the use of our gifts, and this will be accounted service rendered to our Lord.

2 . Culture by the use of them. We are to get personal benefit, as putting the talents to use develops our powers. The finest and best moral qualities, the most sturdy and most sensitive spiritual graces, are won by indirect culture, through the expenditure and use of our faculties and gifts. Work, spend, give, thereby you shall gain power for higher service; thereby you shall "meeten for the inheritance."

IV. CHRIST 'S JUDGMENT OF THOSE WHO RECEIVE HIS TALENT TRUSTS .

1 . The judgment is the same for all trusts. There is not one principle of judgment for the ten talent man, and another principle for the one talent man.

2 . The judgment is based on the quality of the work, not on mere results. He who makes his one talent into two may really be more faithful than he who makes his five talents into ten.

3 . The judgment is severe on those who never tried to do anything with their talent. Those who have small powers are tempted to despise and neglect them.

V. THE REWARDS CHRIST GIVES ARE SIMPLY OTHER AND LARGER TRUSTS . Illustrate by the successful general, who would think it no reward to be pensioned off. The only honour be cares for is some higher and nobler trust. We should cultivate the thought of heaven as the "higher service." Doing well what we do, we shall have more to do for Christ; and that will be our best possible reward. Appeal: Are you Christ's servant? Then you have your talent trust. What are you doing with it? What will you say to him when he comes again? And what will he say to you?—R.T.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Matthew 25:15 (Matthew 25:15)

The moral value of our responsibilities.

Several distinct lines of thought open out from this parable.

1 . The diversity of the talents with which men are entrusted.

2 . The common responsibility of all before God, be their talents few or many.

3 . The certainty found in the very nature of a trust, that a reckoning day must come.

4 . The true apprehension of life is gained by treating it as a stewardship.

5 . The apparent insignificance of a man's talent can never excuse its neglect. The point to which attention is now more especially directed is, that God works out a gracious purpose in moral character by putting men under responsibilities. In the case our Lord brings before us, no doubt the lord wanted his property cared for during his absence; but, beyond and above that, he wanted his servants tested and cultured, by meeting responsibilities, into a faithfulness which he could recognize and reward when he returned.

I. OUR RESPONSIBILITIES . Life is full of such from its beginning to its end. See the Divine idea in the two heads of the human race. The first Adam trusted with the garden, and trusted to leave alone the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The second Adam trusted with the work of redemption. Show

Illustrate by a few special cases, such as:

II. OUR RESPONSE TO OUR RESPONSIBILITIES . This our Lord so skilfully illustrates in three specimen instances. We can properly respond, because they are only given up to the measure of our ability. We should be crushed if they were too much for our strength. We can respond by opening our whole natures to accept them, as the flowers open to the sunshine. It is a beginning of good thus to lift ourselves up to meet responsibilities. We begin to feel what possibilities are in us. The true conception of the angel is not with folded wings standing, but with poised wing ready to fly. Waiting to meet his trust. From some points of view all human trusts seem little. Estimate their moral influence, and no one of them can be thought little.—R.T.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Matthew 25:14-30 (Matthew 25:14-30)

Parable of the talents. (Peculiar to St. Matthew.) Following on the lesson of watchfulness and inward personal preparation just given, this parable enforces the necessity of external work and man's accountability to God for the due use of the special endowments which he has received. The former was concerned chiefly with the contemplative life, the waiting virgins; this chiefly with the active, the working servant; though, in fact, both states combine more or less in the good Christian, and the perfect disciple will unite in himself the characteristics of John and Peter, Mary and Martha. St. Luke ( Luke 19:11-27 ) has recorded a somewhat analogous parable spoken by Christ on leaving the house of Zacchaeus, known as the parable of the pounds; and some critics have deemed that the two accounts relate to the same saying altered in some details, which are to be accounted for on the hypothesis that St. Luke has combined with our parable another on the rebellious citizens. That there are great resemblances between the two cannot be disputed, but the discrepancies are too marked to allow us to assume the unity of the two utterances. Christ often repeats himself, using the same figure, or illustration, or expression to enforce different truths or different phases of the same truth, as hero he may have desired more emphatically to impress on the disciples their special responsibilities. The variations in the two parables are briefly these: The scene and occasion are different; this was spoken to the disciples, that to the multitude; in one the lord is a noble who was to receive a kingdom, in the other he is simply a landowner; here his absence is a matter of local space, there it is a matter of time; the servants are ten in the one case, and three in the other; ill one we have pounds spoken of, in the other talents; in St. Luke each servant has the same sum delivered to him, in St. Matthew the amount is divided into talents, five, two, and one; in the "pounds" the servants show differing faithfulness with the same gifts, in the "talents" two of them display the same faithfulness with differing gifts; here the idle servant hides his money in a napkin, there he buries it in the earth; the conclusions also of the parables vary. Their object is not identical: the parable in our text illustrates the truth that we shall be judged according to that which we have received; the parable in St. Luke shows, to use Trench's words, that "as men differ in fidelity, in zeal, in labour, so will they differ in the amount of their spiritual gain." The latter treats of the use of gifts common to all, whether bodily, mental, or spiritual, such as one faith, one baptism, reason, conscience, sacraments, the Word of God; the former is concerned with the exercise of endowments which have been bestowed according to the recipient's capacity and his ability to make use of them,—the question being, how he has employed his powers, opportunities, and circumstances, the particular advantages, examples, and means of grace given to him.

- The Pulpit Commentary

Matthew 25:15 (Matthew 25:15)

Unto one he gave five talents. The talent of silver (taking silver as worth a little over 5s. an ounce) was nearly equivalent to £400 of our money. It is from the use of the word "talents" in this parable that we moderns have derived its common meaning of natural gifts and endowments. The three principal slaves receive a certain amount of property to use for their master's profit. To every man. To all is given some grace or faculty which they have to employ to the glory of God. "Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ "( Ephesians 4:7 ). No one can justly say he is neglected in this distribution. Whatever natural powers, etc., we possess, and the opportunities of exercising and improving them, are the gift of God, and are delivered to us to be put out to interest. According to his several ability ( κατα Ì τηαν δυ ì ναμιν ) . The master apportioned his gifts in accordance with his knowledge of the slaves' capacity for business, and the probability of their rightly employing much or little capital. So God distributes his endowments, not to all alike, but in such proportions as men are able to bear and to profit by. The infinite variety in men's dispositions, intellects, will. opportunities, position, and so on, are all taken into account, and modify and condition their responsibility. Straightway took his journey ( ἀπεδη ì μησεν εὐθε ì ως ). Immediately after the distribution he departed, leaving each slave, uncontrolled and undirected, to use the property assigned to him. So God gives us free will at the same time that he sets before us opportunities of showing our faithfulness. The Lord may be referring primarily to the apostles whom he left immediately after he had bestowed upon them authority and commission. The Revised Version, Westcott and Hort, Nosgen, and others transfer the adverb "straightway" to the beginning of the next verse (omitting δε Ì in that verse). It is supposed to be superfluous here. The Vulgate accords with the Received Text; and there seems to be no sufficient reason for accentuating the first slave's activity above that of the second, who was equally faithful.

- The Pulpit Commentary