Parable of the Talents — Matthew 25:14–30

The Parable of the Talents is one of the final parables of Jesus recorded by Matthew. The parable teaches a simple truth: Don't waste your life.

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  • Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper written in 2007

  • We come to one of the final parables of Jesus recorded by Matthew.

  • Unlike some parables, there will be no explicit explanation given by Jesus. But this parable teaches such a simple truth and explanation was not necessary.

  • Reminder that Matthew was a tax-collector.

    • He left everything to follow Jesus. (Luke 5:27-28)
  • The goal of Matthew’s gospel is to show the Jewish reader that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

  • In Matthew, Jesus is recorded to give five discourses.

    1. Matthew 5-7: Sermon on the Mount
    2. Matthew 10: Commissioning of the Twelve
    3. Matthew 13: Kingdom Parables
    4. Matthew 18: Childlikeness of the True Believer
    5. Matthew 24-25: Olivet Discourse

Matthew 24

  • Signs of Christ’s return will be accompanied by wars and tribulation
  • False prophets will arise along with persecution
  • Abdomination of desolation
  • Return of Christ
    • Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:44)
      Three Parables
  • Parable of the Two Servants
    • one servant who is doing the right things when master comes back.
    • wicked servant who beats others and eats with drunkards and did not expect master to return.
  • Parable of the Ten Virgins
    • 10 virgins who took lamps to meet bridegroom
    • 5 wise ones took flasks of oil
    • 5 foolish took no oil and was delayed to buy oil
    • foolish virgins were shut out of the marriage feast
  • Parable of the Talents

Matt. 25:14   “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:14-30)


  • “talent” - is a measurement of weight, usually of gold, silver or bronze. During this time, talent is not connoted with ability but rather with money.
  • Five talents of gold or even silver would have been a large amount of money for most people, especially for slaves.
  • Notice that the master knew the abilities of his slaves and give to each “according to his ability.”
  • Based on the context, we can assume the master represents Jesus. His journey is the time between Jesus’ first and second coming. The slaves depict us, professing Christians who have been entrusted with God-given resources.


  • The first two slaves were productive.
  • The one one “went at once” and traded and doubled his money.
  • The second one did the same.


  • The third one went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.
  • This was the most secure way to store valuables with threat of loss or theft.


  • The master comes back after a “long time” had elapsed.
  • To the first two, he speaks these simple words. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2)

  • steward comes from the Greek word “oikonomos.”
  • we are stewards, and we possess nothing. Our master, God and our Lord Jesus Christ, possesses everything.


  1. The third servant produced absolutely nothing.
  2. The third servant shifted blame to the master, calling him a “hard man.” By accusing the master as “reaping where he did not sow and gathering where he scattered no seed,” he accuses his master as dishonest and unscrupulous.
  3. The third servant made a false excuse. He admits to being fearful of losing his master’s money, so he had no desire to increase the wealth of his master. Instead, he buried it in the ground.


  • The master called the third servant wicked and slothful (lazy).
  • If the third’s servant’s excuse was true, he could have at least sent it to a bank for interest. The third’s servant’s excuse was untruthful and invalid.
  • The third servant was unfaithful.


  • The master casts the worthless servant into the outer darkness.
    • Outer darkness is referring to hell.
    • “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Salvation is by faith alone, but saving faith is never alone. True saving faith, as James 2 states will be accompanied by good works. “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

But let me describe more precisely what good works includes.

  • It’s not just sinning less.
  • It’s being productive for God’s kingdom.

“Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (1 Cor 9:24)

Remember that Christ Jesus enables, empowers, and motivates us to this end.

  • We were dead to sin, but we are now alive in Christ. When we were regenerated and converted, we received the ability to do this.
  • We have received the Holy Spirit who now indwells in us and empowers us in our progressive sanctification.
  • We don’t do this out of duty. God’s love for us gives us the motivates to live our entire life for His glory.