The familiar parable of the talents found in Matthew 25 is the third in the series our Lord gave his disciples at the close of his great Olivet discourse. In answer to their question, the Lord outlined the course of events from the time of his departure through the destruction of Jerusalem under the Roman armies. This would bring the end of the age and His parousia. He closes with a word of admonition, "watch." They were to be watching because they didn't know the "day or hour" when He would come. They only knew that it would be in "their generation."
Jesus used His parables to illustrate what it meant to be watching for His return. It is obvious that there is no break between the previous parable and this one. It introduces no new element. The representation of the coming of Christ as a time of judgment runs throughout the whole prophetic discourse of our Lord. Like the preceding one, this parable had an immediate lesson for those who heard it for the first time. It contains a solemn warning to the servants of Christ to be faithful and diligent in the absence of their Lord. It points to a day when He would return and reckon with them. It sets forth the abundant reward of the good and faithful, and the punishment of the unfaithful servant.
"For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Matthew 25:14-15 ESV
James Stuart Russell wrote:
The connecting particle 'for' in verse 14 distinctly marks the continuation of the discourse. The theme is the same, the time is the same, the catastrophe is the same. Up to this point, therefore, we find no break, no change, no introduction of a different topic; all is continuous, homogeneous, one. Never for a moment has the discourse swerved from the great, all-absorbing theme—the approaching doom of the guilty city and nation, the solemn events attendant thereon, all to take place within the period of that generation, and which the disciples, or some of them, would live to witness.
It is evident, even this early in the story, that we have the same basic pattern as in the other two parables. Here is a master who is absent, and certain ones are waiting for his return. This parable was primarily addressed to the Disciples alone. They were the ones who asked Yeshua the questions and He was answering them.
Yeshua left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them…" Matthew 24:1-2 ESV
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" And Yeshua answered them…" Matthew 24:3-4 ESV
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Matthew 24:6 ESV
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation… Matthew 24:9 ESV
"So when you see the abomination of desolation… Matthew 24:15 ESV
Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 ESV
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42 ESV
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44 ESV
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:13 ESV
Yeshua is speaking to His disciples throughout chapter 24 and 25. They were the ones who approached him and questioned him about the temple's destruction. According to Mark, the questions were asked by Peter, James, John, and Andrew. Matthew and Mark record that they came "privately." In both Matthew and Mark this is used to set the disciples apart from the crowds but not from each other. I think that this means that they were the ones who raised the questions and not that they were the only disciples present.
So, keep in mind that Yeshua is here speaking to His disciples. Yeshua had told a similar parable to the Pharisees in Matthew 21:33-46. That parable is addressed to the unbelieving Jews, but the parable of the talents is addressed to the Disciples and concerns their responsibility during the Lord's absence.
Let's look at the parable itself.
"For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. Matthew 25:14 ESV
"For it will be like a man going on a journey"—the "it" here is a reference to the Kingdom of God just as in the last parable.
W. M. Taylor says of the parable that it is true to the Oriental life of our Lord's time:
When a wealthy man was leaving his home for a while, two courses were open to him for the arrangement of his affairs. Either he might make his confidential slaves his agents, committing to them the tilling of his land and giving to them his money to be used by them in trade; or he might take advantage of the money-changing and money-lending system which had been introduced by the Phoenicians, and which was at that time in full operation throughout the Roman Empire. In the present use, the Lord adopted the former of these courses; and there was at least a tacit understanding, if no formal contract, that the servants would be rewarded for their fidelity.
To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Matthew 25:15 ESV
There are some who take the word talent as referring to the natural gifts that each of us possess. They say the teaching of this parable is that we are to use our talents for the Lord's sake. But if you read the parable that way, you are being misled by the modern use of the word talent. Talent, to us, means an ability, a capacity, a natural ability to do something. You may have a talent, perhaps, for singing, or for organizing, or for leadership, or athletics, or whatever it may be. But that is not what talent means here.
In biblical times, a talent meant a weight of money, a considerable weight. A talent could be gold, silver, or copper, each with its own value. The Greek word used for "money" in verse 18 is argurion, a word that can mean either "money" or "silver," which may hint at the second meaning. It is best to compare the talent with modern currency in terms of earning power. If a talent was worth six thousand denarii, then it would take a day laborer twenty years to earn so much (perhaps five hundred-thousand dollars). So the lord, when he went away, distributed money among his servants, a considerable amount.
Notice how the lord distributes these talents,
To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Matthew 25:15 ESV
After giving the servants different responsibilities, the lord went on a journey.
He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. Matthew 25:16-17 ESV
The NASB reads, "Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them." Our text says, "went at once." The faithful servants immediately put their master's money to work.
But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Matthew 25:18 ESV
This servant did not care to be bothered by the task that had been assigned to him. He dug a hole in the ground and buried the talent there. What is the golden rule of parabolic interpretation? Determine the one central truth the parable is attempting to teach. Do not try to come up with some symbolic meaning for this; it was a common practice in the Lord's day and is simply a part of the story.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44 ESV
At that time, it was safer to put your money in the ground than in the deposit system.
Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. Matthew 25:19 ESV
Here we see the lord coming back and settling the accounts. "After a long time"—those who want to divide this discourse into two comings of our Lord seize on these words to push this coming out thousands of years. Remember that Yeshua's disciples were young teenagers. Let's say 15 years old. Their boss gives them some money and says, I'm going out of town for a while take care of business until I come back. The boss doesn't return until they are 55 years old. Would you say that 40 years was a long time? Absolutely.
Dr. Herbert Lockyer, commenting on "after a long time" says, "This does not imply that Jesus meant to teach that His second advent was not to be expected for centuries. He never set a time for His second coming." I agree with Dr. Lockyer, except for his last sentence. He must have missed Matthew 24:34 where Yeshua said that he would return in their generation. The time was set, but the day and the hour were not known.
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.' 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.' 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.' 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.' Matthew 25:20-23 ESV
These two servants are bubbling over with enthusiasm. They are thrilled, and excited about their lord's return because they have been faithful. The lord praises and rewards these servants for their faithfulness. In the eyes of the master, they had proven themselves to be thoroughly reliable. They both doubled their money, and both received identical praise.
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, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.' 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? 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. Matthew 25:24-27 ESV
This servant accused the master of being a hard man who is exploiting the labor of others and putting the servant in an objectionable position. In verse 26, "you knew" is an interrogation, and should be rendered "Did you know?" It is not an admission of the accusation of the servant but a question of astonishment. It implies that even if the charge were true, the servant was not justified in his conduct. In effect, the master said, "You should have invested my money with the bankers." These bankers were the men who displayed their coins on the benches. They were money exchangers and bankers all in one. For a small fee, they exchanged money, and they also paid interest on money that was deposited with them. There is no praise and no reward for this servant. He is called wicked and lazy.
So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 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. Matthew 25:28-29 ESV
Albert Barns wrote that "This seems to be a proverbial expression. It means, whosoever rightly improves what is committed to him shall receive more, or shall be rewarded; but he that misimproves what is committed to him shall not be rewarded." The idea seems to be that of use it or lose it.
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Matthew 25:30 ESV
The Bible does not reveal all that is implied by the term, "outer darkness." It seems to imply a "darkness outside some region of light: and even a deep sense of sorrow and maybe pain. This is not speaking of eternal conscience torment. I see it as a reference to being in Jerusalem when it is destroyed. Again, in this parable we see a strong contrast between the faithful and unfaithful servants.
What is the spiritual truth that Yeshua is teaching with this parable? As we attempt to understand it, we must keep in mind the main rule of parabolic interpretation—a parable has one central truth. All the details are not to be made to mean something.
The main ideas of the parable are not hard to find. The wealthy master, referred to as "lord" by the servants, is the Lord Yeshua. The journey into the far country refers to His departure into heaven at His Ascension. The servants are the Disciples to whom Yeshua is speaking. Are you with me so far? What do the talents refer to? Before he went, he "entrusted to them his property."
Thus, the talent here in this story represents something that belongs to God, not to men. It is not something we have; it is something He owns and distributes among men according to his will. What is it? I believe that the valuable merchandise that is given to the Disciples is the glorious Gospel of redeeming love and grace. Such wealth, beyond compare, was committed to the Disciples to invest. Paul, speaking of the gospel, says.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV
In answer to the disciple's questions as to when the end would be, the Lord answered them in:
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 ESV
Unless we take this verse entirely out of its setting, "the end" in view here is the end or the destruction which was to come upon Jerusalem and the temple, and thus ending the Jewish age. Jerusalem would be destroyed, but "first" the gospel would be preached unto all nations.
Now whose responsibility was it to proclaim this gospel to all the world? In Matthew 24:14, Yeshua predicted what would be done; and in Matthew 28, he commanded it to be done.
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Yeshua had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Yeshua came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20 ESV
The "Great Commission" was given to the disciples, the same disciples to whom Yeshua gave the parable of the talents and the same disciples who asked him the questions about the end of the age. They were responsible to take the treasure of the gospel to all the world. In His prayer to the Father Yeshua said:
As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. John 17:18 ESV
He had "sent them, his disciples, into the world" with a mission (cf. 13:20; 15:26-27; 20:21). Similarly, the Father had "sent" the Son "into the world" with a mission (10:36). John 3:17 indicates that God sent the Son into the world in order that the world would be saved. Yeshua sends the disciples into the world for the same purpose—to proclaim the saving work of Christ, the glorious gospel of the blessed God.
They knew that the end would not come until they had finished their task. The end that was to come once the gospel was preached in all the world was not the end of the material world or the end of the Christian age. The Christian age has no end:
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:32-33 ESV
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Yeshua throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV
The end that was to come once the gospel had been preached in all the world was the Old Covenant world of Judaism.
This proclamation of the gospel into all the world was something that was ever before Paul's eyes. His desire was to be a faithful servant and hear his Lord say, "Well done!" Notice what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:
He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 1 Corinthians 3:8 ESV
"Each will receive his wages according to his labor"—this teaches that there are greater and lesser rewards. This is the same idea that we saw in the parable of the talents. The idea of the Lord's coming to reward His own was one of Paul's greatest motivations. God rewards on the basis of labor and faithful service. We saw in the parable that those servants who were faithful were rewarded by the Lord at His return.
For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. 1 Corinthians 3:9 ESV
We, ministers, are co-laborers for God. Paul is saying that Apollos and he are not working for themselves, but work for God. They are God's servants rather than His colleagues. Just as in the parable, they are distributing God's goods.
At the end of verse 9, He tells them that they are God's building and that they exhibit God's activity in spiritual architecture. Three times in this verse he says "we are God's." God owns the workers, the field, and the building. Paul is now going to use that imagery of a building in verses 10-17. He uses the metaphor of a field in verses 5-8, and the metaphor of the building in 10-17. He tells us in these verses that a minister is a builder in the house of God. Paul is addressing the ministers and their responsibilities in these verses.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, Ephesians 4:11-13 ESV
The point is that the gifted men equip the entire body to work in accordance with their various spiritual gifts. The purpose of these gifted men was to equip the saints so that they would do the work of the ministry, use their spiritual gifts, and build up the body of Christ.
The word "until" here is the Greek word mechri (meck-re), which means, "up to a certain point" (as preposition of extent [denoting the terminus]). It denotes that he gave gifted men to the church and that will continue until the action of the following aorist subjunctive katantao, "until we all attain."
Grammatically, there are three phrases in 4:13, each beginning with the word "attain to." So, "attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God," is one phrase. Attain "to a mature man," is the second phrase. Attain "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," is the third phrase. "Attain" is used nine times in the Book of Acts to refer to travelers arriving at their destination. Thus, each of these phrases involves a process that results in a goal.
Yahweh's purpose for that church was that it be conformed into the image of Yeshua the Christ. That took place in AD 70, when the Lord returned, bringing in the New Heaven and Earth where we see Him face to face. The coming again of our Lord for His people brought them to full maturity. During the interim period, the servants of God were building up His church.
In this section, the builders and their works are in view. This is not about a a believer and his personal spiritual life as some wrongly surmise. Paul is he is talking about those first-century saints who were called of God to proclaim the Gospel.
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 1 Corinthians 3:10 ESV
Now, note carefully that Paul is addressing builders. He is not speaking to every Christian but only to those who were called and gifted by God to preach and teach the word of God. He gives a caution to them at the end of verse 10, "Let each one take care how he builds upon it." The words, "each one," refer to each of the builders. Now in the following verse, Paul is going to lay down two responsibilities for every builder. The first is that he is to build on the foundation of Yeshua the Christ and him crucified.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Yeshua the Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 ESV
Paul's message to Corinth was Yeshua and him crucified—the doctrine of the atonement: the coming in the flesh of the Son of God; the suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Yeshua; and the reality of forgiveness and restoration for everyone who accepts Christ in true faith. The person and work of Yeshua revealed in the Scriptures is the true foundation on which the church is built.
Now the second responsibility of a minister is to build upon that foundation using only good materials. This is probably referring to grace as opposed to law. Remember, the Galatians were trying to add the works of the law to the foundation of the Gospel.
The materials are described for us in verse 12.
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—1 Corinthians 3:12 ESV
The whole thesis of the passage relates to the builder/minister/servant and his duty, and his duty is to teach the gospel of grace. The church is the temple of God and that which adorns the temple of God is doctrine. Wood, hay, and straw were not used in the erection of the temple but in the erection of a home. They represent the false teachings of the Judaizers.
each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 1 Corinthians 3:13 ESV
There was coming a day of judgment that would clearly reveal that the doctrines of Judaism were over and had been replaced by the gospel.
Paul's image portrays the construction of a large building and the many men involved in the building of it. Some are using good materials and some are using very poor materials. At the parousia of Christ, the materials will be judged. Just as wood, hay, and straw cannot stand before a fire, false doctrine will not stand before the judgment of God. In verses 14 and 15, two different types of workers are going to be exposed at that day of judgment.
First, we see the wise worker in verse 14.
If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 1 Corinthians 3:14 ESV
This is the man that has built with gold, silver, and precious stones. These are the things that endure. He has taught the truths of the Gospel of grace. The wise builder will be rewarded by God for his faithfulness. This is the same idea that we see in the parable of the talents.
In contrast to the wise workman, we find the foolish workman of verse 15.
If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15 ESV
He will suffer loss of reward, not salvation. The stress in this passage is upon the servant's service to Christ. He will be saved, but through fire—this could be a picture of those Christians who were clinging to the works of the law and were in Jerusalem at its destruction.
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 ESV
There are two words in the New Testament translated temple. One is hieron, a reference to the Temple with all its precincts. The other word is nahos. Its focus is the Holy of Holies and not the whole Temple. It is the word that Paul uses here.
What did that mean to these people? It was the dwelling place of God. "Do you not know" that that is what you are? That is what the church really is. It is that body through which God is to be manifested to the world.
Because the church is God's temple, he goes on to say:
If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:17 ESV
The word "destroy" is the Greek word, phtheiro. It means to spoil by any process or to ruin, corrupt, defile, or destroy. The Corinthians were God's temple and God dwelt within them. Any man who would seek to destroy that temple through false teaching would be destroyed by God.
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Corinthians 4:1 ESV
The word he uses here for "servants" is huperetes. It depicts a rower in the lower tier of the galley of a ship. What Paul is doing here is explaining the relationship between the master and the servant. Paul is telling us that we ought to regard those who minister the word, not as superiors, but as subordinates of Christ.
We are also to consider them stewards of the mysteries of God. A steward was a very familiar person to the readers of the New Testament. He was a slave who was given a special privileged responsibility by the master. He was, in a sense, the overseer of the house of the master. So here is one slave that is elevated above the other slaves and is given the responsibility of dispensing to the members of the household the provisions and the stores of the master that were needed by those in the household.
As a steward, then, the minister of the gospel has as his primary function dispensing the mysteries of God. Mystery is the Greek word musterion. In its biblical use, it is not something that is mysterious but rather is a secret that man cannot know without God's revealing it. It is only understood by revelation. It is something that was hidden in the Tanakh but revealed in the New Testament. The mystery Paul is talking about is all that God has revealed in Yeshua, all the truths of the Christian life. And his prime responsibility is to dispense that message. That is his prime function and his prime requisite is faithfulness, as verse 2 states,
Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 ESV
Remember, in this context he is talking to those who are preaching the gospel. A steward is to be faithful, and he is to be viewed simply as a man who is entrusted with a stewardship. In the dispensing of those mysteries, his prime requisite is to be faithful. He is to be faithful to his master.
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV
Judgment will take place when the Lord comes. Paul says the Lord will "disclose the purposes of the heart" which is an explanation of his statement "who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness."
In this text in Corinthians, Paul is saying the same thing that the Parable of the Talents is saying. I think this shows us clearly that the parable was directed to the Disciples in their ministry of proclaiming the gospel between the Lord's Ascension and His parousia.
The Old Covenant was a ministration of death:
who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6 ESV
The Old Covenant could not give life:
Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. Galatians 3:20-21 ESV
God had promised a New Covenant that would give life:
In those days they shall no longer say: "'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.' But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, Jeremiah 31:29-31 ESV
As the Church was being matured, the Old Covenant was growing old:
In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:13 ESV
This is why the gospel had to be preached in all the world before the end would come. The New Covenant world had to be perfected before God removed the Old World. His disciples were to be faithful in proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom until He returned.
So, we see from this parable that God rewards faithful service, and he punishes those servants of his that are unfaithful.
As I said, this parable deals with the original disciples and their mission of world evangelism. If we compare this parable to Luke's parable of the pounds, we can see some additional thoughts. Different aspects are stressed in these two parables. In the parable of the talents, Yeshua addresses His disciples while at the Mount of Olives; in the parable of the pounds, He is speaking to the multitude at Jericho. In the talents, the variety of stewardship is dealt with. Stewards differ from each other in the amount of gifts received. In the pounds, all are equally responsible. The servants differed from each other in the diligence they displayed.
Both parables exhibit the distinction between the faithful and the faithless, between reward and discipline.
He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Engage in business until I come.' But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' Luke 19:12-14 ESV
The first difference we see here is that all the servants got the same stewardship—they each received a pound. The second thing and additional aspect we notice here is that "his citizens hated him," and rejected his reign. These citizens are destroyed at his return:
But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'" Luke 19:27 ESV
"The citizens" refers to the Jews who are destroyed in AD 70.
When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made five minas.' And he said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.' Luke 19:15-19 ESV
The third difference is that the servant did much more than just double his master's money. Notice in verse 17 that the faithful servant is given rule over ten cities. I'm not exactly sure what this is referring to, but it is clear that it is some kind of reward for faithful service.
The fourth difference is that the unfaithful servant is not said to be cast into outer darkness. He does, however, lose his pound and is not given any reward.
I think that this parable emphasizes the responsibility of all first-century believers to proclaim the gospel message until the Lord returned. I think it also teaches us the principle that God rewards faithful service.
Back to the parable of the talents.
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Matthew 25:30 ESV
The "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is not referring to hell but to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. The unfaithful servant would not proclaim the gospel for fear of persecution from his Jewish brethren. We see this idea in:
Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:42-43 ESV
Because of their love of man's praise, they would have kept their associations with Judaism and thus would most likely have been destroyed along with the city. They would have suffered the same physical fate as the citizens in Luke's account, except for the fact that were redeemed.
This parable was addressed to the disciples, they were to be faithful in the proclamation of the gospel until the end of the age. The overriding principle in this parable is that rewards are given according to faithfulness, and chastening is brought on by lack of faithfulness.
What does this parable mean to us? It teaches us the principle that runs throughout the Bible—negligence of spiritual truth is punished, and diligence is rewarded. We also have a stewardship to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom—eternal life to all who will believe. We are the Bride of Christ, and we are to be calling the world to faith in the gospel.
The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17 ESV
We also will be held accountable for the stewardship that has been entrusted to us. May we, like the first-century saints, seek to hear His words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."