Brief Notes

The Talents &
the Minas (2)

1 April 2023

How much
responsibility we have
before the Lord
depends upon the gifts
He has bestowed
upon us

The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 and the Parable of the Minas in Luke 19 both stress the same crucial point: that the Lord expects a return from us based upon the gifts in grace He has bestowed upon us, and thus our reward in the coming kingdom will be determined by how we make use of these gifts.

This is a very, very sober matter. It should cause us to heed the Lord’s word, as spoken by the nobleman in the Parable of the Minas, to,

…“Do business till I come.”
— Luke 19:13

But, why are two similar, yet different, parables needed to make this point? Very simply, to deal with the different responsibility of each of the two different categories of gifts they portray.

In our previous Note we considered how the Parable of the Talents relates to the especially gifted saints, such as the “apostles, prophets, evangelists, and shepherds and teachers” among the believers (Eph. 4:11). In contrast, the Parable of the Minas is for the saints in general (“The Talents & the Minas” • 1). One of the reasons for this is that a talent was so much greater in value than a mina; the former may have been worth as much as 6,000 denarri, while the latter was worth only 100 denarri.

The Parable of the Talents stresses the reward for faithfulness. The three slaves each receive a different gift. Two of them gain a profit equal to what their master gave them, and both of these are told exactly the same thing:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
— Matthew 25:21,23

In contrast, the Parable of the Minas stresses our different rewards based on our capacity to serve the Lord. In this parable, each of the ten servants is given the same gift, one mina, but they earn a different return. The one who gained the ten minas is given to reign over ten cities, while the one who gained five minas is given to reign over five cities (Luke 19:13,16-19).

But what of the unfaithful servant in each of these parables?

In the Parable of the Talents, the unfaithful servant gives back to his master only the talent his master gave him to begin with. His master rebukes him as a “wicked and lazy servant” (Matt. 25:26), takes the talent from him, and then says,

…“Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness! There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
— Matthew 25:30

In the Parable of the Minas, however, while the nobleman also rebukes the unfaithful one as a “wicked servant” (Luke 19:22), and that servant also has his gift taken from him (Luke 19:24), there is no further punishment. This indicates that unfaithful believers will lose the chance to reign with Christ during His 1,000 year kingdom on the earth (Rev. 20:4) but will not suffer any further discipline. (And, like all believers, after the 1,000 years are completed they will still reign with Christ in eternity; Rev. 22:5.)

These two different punishments show us the principle that the more we are gifted by the Lord in grace, the greater our responsibility before Him for how we make use of our gift. That is, the one who received the talent also received a much more severe discipline than the one who received the mina, for the Lord had expected more from him.

No doubt, even if our only punishment will be for the Lord to say to us,“wicked servant!,” and to forfeit the chance to reign with Him because we produced no profit for Him, that will be more than bad enough; how terrible to hear such words from our dear Savior, who gave Himself for us: “wicked servant”!

Nonetheless, to be cast into the outer darkness for a time (that is, during the 1,000 year reign of Christ on this present earth; in eternity, all the believers will still be with the Lord), will be something much, much worse than that.

I know this last thought, that a believer may be cast into the outer darkness, is new to some, perhaps many, who are reading this. They have probably assumed that the outer darkness is the same as the Lake of Fire, and therefore, to go there means you are damned for eternity. Therefore, they conclude, the unfaithful servant in the Parable of the Talents must not be a real believer.

However, that is not at all the case, as we will consider in our next Note.

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— 1 April 2023 —