- 1. Synopsis
- 2. Parable Given in Response to
- 3. Symbolism Chart
- 4. The Parable in Matthew
- 5. The Parable in Luke
- 6. Symbolic Interpretations
- 6.1. The Minas/Talents are Our Earthly Means
- 6.2. The Nobleman is Jesus
- 6.3. The Servants are the Children of God
- 6.4. The Gained Talents/Minas is the Fruit of our Labors
- 6.5. The Judgment is the Judgment
- 7. Conclusion
Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27
Synopsis of Parables:
A nobleman was going to go far away to receive more land and called his servants to him. He gave one mina each to ten servants. [Alternatively, he gave five talents to one servant, two to another, and one to one servant.] While the nobleman was gone, his servants traded what they were given so that they had more. When he returned, he gave each person a number of cities to rule equal to the number of minas they gained. When he found a servant who did nothing with his mina/talent, so he took that mina/talent from the servant, berated him, and then gave the mina/talent to the one with ten minas/talents.
Parable Given in Response to:
The last verse before the Parable of the Five Talents was
It is possible that the Parable of the Ten Minas was also spoken on the Mount of Olives, because the verse
preceding it says,
|↓ Minas/Talents||Earthly Means||Matthew 25:15Luke 19:12|
|↓ Nobleman||Jesus||Matthew 25:14Luke 19:12|
|↓ Servants||Children of God||Matthew 25:14Luke 19:13|
|↓ Gained Talents/Minas||Fruit of our Labors||Matthew 25:16Luke 19:15|
|↓ Judgment||The Judgement||Matthew 25:19Luke 19:22||Regarding who is
chosen into the
The Parable of the Five Talents
As presented in the King James Version of Matthew 25:14-30
The Parable of the Ten Minas
As presented in the King James Version of Luke 19:11-27
Luke 19:11And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to
Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
12He said therefore,
Explanation of the Interpretation of Symbols
The Minas/Talents are Our Earthly Means Back to Top ↑
First, a note on the dictionary. A "mina" is the same thing as a "pound" in the Parable of the Minas. The KJV translators decided to translate the Greek "μνᾶ," mina, to "pound." However, the parable has been traditionally called the Parable of the Ten Minas, so do not be confused by the difference in terminology between the title and the parable.
The talents and minas that are given to each servant represent their earthly means to do the will of their
nobleman. In the Parable of the Five Talents, Jesus says this clearly:
However, the Parable of the Ten Minas is different. Here, ten servants are each given one mina.(Although we only hear about the judgment of three of them. Luke 19:13.) The servants were each given the same amount, one mina. But what they did with the mina, and how many more they gained differs from the other parable. Likewise, so to is the reward. The servant that earned ten minas was rewarded twice as much as the servant that earned five minas.
When the playing field was leveled, the amount of effort put in resulted in more rewards, but when the playing field was unequal, the same amount of effort resulted in the same reward. So what can we conclude from this? Even though we may be given different abilities, circumstances, talents, personalities, and preferences, God will judge us based on what we did with what he gave us, and when he does this, he will reward us for our effort done.
Consider this, Jesus will hold responsible a person who has access to the internet and the ability to program more than others because they are able to spread Jesus's word motr than a person who lacks hands and cannot type. The advantages between the two are vast, one can make a website and spread the word to thousands, the other one is limited. Yet since they have a different playing field, God will judge each by their own efforts, and not by their circumstances. Likewise, a person who lived in the 1200s, did not have access to the bible, and only heard sermons in Latin,(a language they did not speak) would also be judged vastly different from the modern man who can write and speak one of the languages that the bible has been translated in, and can even read from their phone such a thing.
So do not be discouraged in spreading the word for simple reasons like a lack of money, lack of technical skills, lack of social skills, or even a lack of appearance. God judges what is inside.(1 Samual 16:7.)
It is also important to note that the talents(and while not said, presumably the minas too) were the
nobleman's "possessions." If God created the earth,(Genesis 1:9-11.) and
Most denominations hold that the meaning of the symbol of the talents and minas is similar to that written here. Some would say that they represent only "God-given" gifts to a person, but nearly every gift a person has was earned. No one sits down with a violin for the first time and plays it well, it is only with time and ability that they will be able to play wondrous music. Nevertheless, some people may have a propensity to being able to play the violin that other may not have. For instance, a person lacking a hand will likely not play the violin as well as a person with two functional hands.
As this is a common interpretation, this changes little-to-none established theology.
The Nobleman is Jesus Back to Top ↑
In the Parable of the Five Talents, the word "nobleman" does not appear. However, we are using the term "nobleman" to represent the master who owns the servants, to avoid confusion. In the Parable of the Ten Minas, the master is clearly labeled as a "nobleman."
Yet again, we find that a central figure in a parable is Jesus. Jesus left us to go back to the father,(John 16:5.) just as the nobleman in the parables left to go to a far country,(Matthew 25:14, Luke 19:12.) and like these noblemen, he too will come back.(John 14:3.)
Some may think the nobleman represents God, but God does not leave us and return to us. Yet, Jesus did, and so we know that the nobleman represents Jesus. This is standard in most denominations, and so this interpretation will probably not change any dogma any particular believer believes in.
The Servants are the Children of God Back to Top ↑
Here, the servants are those within the kingdom of God.
We see this because the noblemen expect their servants to gain with their given talents or minas. He even
has the servants give a reckoning of what they did. This is similar to Jesus, who commanded his disciples to
There is not really any other interpretation for the symbol. An explanation saying that the servants are prophets (which they have represented in other parables) does not really make sense, as God has never thrown out a true prophet.
This is the only logical interpretation, and it does not really change any theology. Some denominations may say that the kingdom of God has not yet come. They're wrong, but they have a legible interpretation by changinig the meaning from “Children of God” to “Christians.”
The Gained Talents/Minas is the Fruit of our Labors Back to Top ↑
Here is an interpretation that might seem interesting. The gained talents and minas represent what we work for and have accomplished. It does not represent additional earthly means.
This interpretation goes well with other sayings from Jesus.
The servant hid away their talent or mina for earthly reasons.(Fear or hatred. See Matthew 25:25 and Luke 19:20.) The result was that nothing was gained. The same thing happens to those people who do not use what they have to lay up treasures in heaven. They gain nothing for eternity. This reinforces the idea that the gained talents and minas represent the fruits of our labors... only when looking at it from God's perspective.
Let us give a modern example. What will Jesus probably say to a person who has watched adorable cat videos
on the Internet all day, instead of working for him? Jesus will probably say,
Some other interpretations of this symbol rely on misleading information. In both parables, the lazy servant has their talent or mina taken away. It is given instead to the profitable servant.(Matthew 25:28; Luke 19:24.) Some people say the currency represents actual currency that you can be given from God by doing well with the currency that you have. This does not make much sense, however. First, the servants, the talents and the minas all already belong to the nobleman.(As already discussed above.) They do not belong to the servant, so if the nobleman says "give unto him more," that is merely more currency that the servant is now managing for the nobleman than before, so it makes little sense to interpret the additional currency as real life money.
Second, it does not seem that Jesus cares if we are rich. In fact, he prefers that we were poor, because
It makes little sense to say that this parable deals with obtaining more earthly treasures. That would go against quite a bit of Jesus's teaching, and since Jesus only spoke the truth, we must throw out the incorrect interpretation, and not the truth.
Regardless, interpreting the additional talents and minas as the fruit of our labor is a rather standard interpretation. Some apply it only to be interpreted as heavenly treasures, and that is the way we lean here. However, by expanding the interpretation slightly, we can account for much more, such as what happens when a servant is lazy and does nothing.
The Judgment is the Judgment Back to Top ↑
The judgment of the servants represents the judgment of those in the kingdom of God. Note that since we already identified that servants as those belonging to the kingdom, we are excluding those who are clearly not in the kingdom, such as atheists or others that do not claim to listen to Jesus.
This results in the unusual interpretation that Jesus will not take everyone in the kingdom of God into eternal life. We have already been discussed in the Parable of the Net of Fish, but our current parable serves as reinforcement to the ideas presented there.
Given our current interpretations, there can be no other interpretation for this symbol. No matter how much
people believe that they are eternally secured upon doing an action, Jesus himself teaches
otherwise. Jesus himself even teaches that those in the kingdom of God may not live eternally.
More poignantly to this parable, Jesus says,
Differences Between the Two Parables Back to Top ↑
While we present both parables together, they are two separate parables. It may be beneficial to consider the differences between them.
In the Parable of the Ten Minas, the nobleman leaves to receive a new kingdom, and tells his ten servants to "occupy," that is, to keep busy while he was gone. He did not tell his servants to do anything special. Contrast this with the Parable of the Talents, here we have three servants who are given three different amounts of talents, according to their abilities. He did not give them an order to do anything with the money, nor did he tell them where he was going or why. However, given that two of the servants ended up doubling their money, we can assume these servants knew that they should try to earn more talents.
Next, we have the difference in value between the mina and talent. In terms of currency, a mina was worth a sixtieth of a talent in Jesus's day. A mina was worth roughly eighty-eight denarii, although some equal it to a hundred denarii. One denarius is an average person's wage for a day's work. Putting this into USD, a denarius might be worth around $100, a mina around $8,800, and a talent $528,000. These numbers may be off a little, but they should give a rough estimate of how much money this was.
Next, in the Parable of the Talents, each servant was given according to their ability. In the Parable of the Minas, each servant was given one mina. They each had a level playing field.
Next, in the Parable of the Talents, the nobleman rewarded his working servants equally, saying
In the Parable of the Five Talents, the unprofitable servant went out of his way to work hard to do nothing with his talent. He went and dug a hole to bury the talent.(Matthew 25:25.) He would have to, presumably, dig the hole back up to give the talent back. This is surely much more difficult(and with a higher risk of losing the money!) than going to the bank to store the money. It's a good representation for the rewards we get for laboring hard on tasks that mean nothing to God. We work hard... and earn nothing. Compared to the Parable of the Ten Minas, the lazy servant merely put the mina in a napkin,(Luke 19:20.) and could not even be bothered to take it to the bank. This is also a good representation of what occurs when you waste your time doing nothing for the Lord. You gain nothing.
So these two parables are different parables, however they echo a similar story and meaning: if you do not utilize what you are given, then you will be cast out.
In Conclusion Back to Top ↑
The parables of the talents and minas are good parables to learn about how Jesus sees his unprofitable servants. Such a lesson can be learned by reading about Jesus's and his apostles' actions in the canonical gospels. They never sat around doing nothing, they were always moving about, teaching and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. However, by putting it into a parable, Jesus brings this matter to the forefront of our attention.