Matthew 25.14-30 – Parable of the Talents
Posted: 24 July 2010 in Matthew

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For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two…..”

Chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel contains a couple of takes on the Last Judgment, and they both make it clear that we will be judged on the basis of what we have done with our lives. At first sight this seems to conflict with the equally clear biblical teaching that salvation is dependent upon God’s grace, and upon his prior decision to save those he has predestined to eternal life. But both teachings are present in the Bible, and so both must be taken seriously. It seems to me personally that the Thomist position comes closest to resolving the conflict, according to which the desire to please God is a grace given to the elect alone – with the works of mercy, listed later on in chapter 25, following on from that.

The Parable of the Talents approaches the subject of judgment from the angle of the gifts and talents which have been bestowed upon us by God, and the use we have made of them in our lives. Not to make use of those endowments, or even worse, to misuse them for our own ends, will bring judgment down upon us.

The parable makes clear that God does not bestow his gifts equally – a truth which I suppose can easily be verified by looking at the world around us – but unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required (Luke 12.48). Somebody with numerous abilities and talents will potentially have more to answer for, come Judgment day, than somebody whose abilities are few, but who, in serving God, has used them for the purpose they were given.

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