Matthew 18:24
And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought to him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(24) Ten thousand talents.—It is hardly necessary to discuss in detail the value in modern coinage of the sum thus described. Assuming the Greek “talent” to have been rightly used by the LXX. translators for the Hebrew kikar in Exodus 38:25-26, we have a basis of calculation which makes the talent equal to 3,000 shekels; and taking the shekel as equal to four drachmæ, this makes the 10,000 talents about £2,500,000 sterling. The sum is evidently named in its vague vastness to indicate the immensity of the debt which man owes to God, the absolute impossibility of his ever clearing off the aggregate, ever-accumulating, of sins of omission and commission which are brought home to his conscience when God “takes account” with him.

Matthew 18:24-27. One was brought who owed him ten thousand talents — That is, according to the lowest computation, about two millions sterling. But it is probable, as the Prussian editors say, that the ten thousand talents are here put for an immense sum. Hereby our Lord intimates the vast number and weight of our offences against God, and our utter incapacity of making him any satisfaction. As he had not to pay — Was utterly unable to discharge this immense debt; his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife and children, &c. — Such was the power which creditors had over insolvent debtors in several countries of Europe, as well as Asia, in ancient times; and payment to be made — With the price of them, as far as it would go. The servant, therefore, fell down and worshipped him — That is, prostrated himself at his master’s feet; saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all — The confusion he was in made him say this without consideration; for the debt which he owed was a sum by far too great for any one, who had nothing, ever to think of acquiring. Then the Lord of that servant — Being of an exceeding generous and merciful disposition; was moved with compassion — Was touched with his distress, and ordered him to be loosed; and forgave him the debt — Discharged him from all obligation to pay it, on condition of his future good behaviour.18:21-35 Though we live wholly on mercy and forgiveness, we are backward to forgive the offences of our brethren. This parable shows how much provocation God has from his family on earth, and how untoward his servants are. There are three things in the parable: 1. The master's wonderful clemency. The debt of sin is so great, that we are not able to pay it. See here what every sin deserves; this is the wages of sin, to be sold as a slave. It is the folly of many who are under strong convictions of their sins, to fancy they can make God satisfaction for the wrong they have done him. 2. The servant's unreasonable severity toward his fellow-servant, notwithstanding his lord's clemency toward him. Not that we may make light of wronging our neighbour, for that is also a sin against God; but we should not aggravate our neighbour's wronging us, nor study revenge. Let our complaints, both of the wickedness of the wicked, and of the afflictions of the afflicted, be brought to God, and left with him. 3. The master reproved his servant's cruelty. The greatness of sin magnifies the riches of pardoning mercy; and the comfortable sense of pardoning mercy, does much to dispose our hearts to forgive our brethren. We are not to suppose that God actually forgives men, and afterwards reckons their guilt to them to condemn them; but this latter part of the parable shows the false conclusions many draw as to their sins being pardoned, though their after-conduct shows that they never entered into the spirit, or experienced the sanctifying grace of the gospel. We do not forgive our offending brother aright, if we do not forgive from the heart. Yet this is not enough; we must seek the welfare even of those who offend us. How justly will those be condemned, who, though they bear the Christian name, persist in unmerciful treatment of their brethren! The humbled sinner relies only on free, abounding mercy, through the ransom of the death of Christ. Let us seek more and more for the renewing grace of God, to teach us to forgive others as we hope for forgiveness from him.Ten thousand talents - A talent was a sum of money, or weight of silver or gold amounting to three thousand shekels. A silver shekel was worth, after the captivity, not far from half a dollar of our money. A talent of silver was worth (circa 1880's) 1,519.23 equals 342 British pounds, 3 shillings, 9d.; of gold, 243,098.88 equals 5,475 British pounds. If these were silver talents, as is probable, then the sum owed by the servant was 15,180,000, or about 3,421, 875 British sterling (circa 1880's), a sum which proves that he was not a domestic, but some tributary prince. The sum is used to show that the debt was immensely large, and that our sins are so great that they cannot be estimated or numbered. Compare Job 22:5. 24. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents—If Attic talents are here meant, 10,000 of them would amount to above a million and a half sterling; if Jewish talents, to a much larger sum. See Poole on "Matthew 18:35". And when he had begun to reckon,.... To open the book of conscience, and to bring to account by some awakening providence, and strong conviction: one was brought unto him; whether he would or no, through the force of an awakened conscience, under guilt and terror;

which owed him ten thousand talents; which must be understood, either of gold, or silver: a talent of silver contained 3,000 shekels, as appears from Exodus 38:25, and was in value of our money 375l. but a talent of gold was equal to 4,500l. of our (f) money. According to Dr. Prideaux (g), a talent of silver was 450l. and a talent of gold, the proportion of gold to silver being reckoned as sixteen to one, was 7,200l. and according to Bishop Cumberland, a talent of silver was 353l. 11s. 10d. ob. and a talent of gold of the same weight, was 5,075l. 15s. 7d. ob. The whole, according to Dr. Hammond, was a thousand eight hundred seventy five thousand pounds, reckoning them silver talents; but if talents of gold are meant, what an immense sum must ten thousand of them be! According to some, seventy two millions sterling. The design of the phrase, is to set forth the exceeding greatness of the debt. Munster's Hebrew Gospel reads it, "ten thousand manehs", or pounds; and so the Persic version: now the value of a maneh of gold, was 75l. and of silver, 7l 10s. (h) take the sum in the least quantity and value, it was exceeding large. The Arabic version renders it a "sum of talents", without mentioning the number, and may mean an innumerable one. Mention is made of such a number of talents of silver, in Esther 3:9, which Aben Ezra says is defective, and signifies ten thousand thousand talents. The "second" Targum on the place says, that the sum of six hundred thousand zuzim, drachms, or pence (i.e. Roman ones) is ten thousand talents of silver. These "ten thousand talents" intend sins, which are called debts, in Scripture; not that they are properly so, or owing to God, for then it would be right to pay them, but because they bind over to punishment. All men owe a debt of thankfulness to God, for their beings, the preservation of them, and all the mercies of life; and a debt of obedience to the whole law, in failure of which, they are obliged to punishment: hence every sin becomes a debt, and these are numerous; indwelling sin, and the lusts thereof, are innumerable; as are actual sins and transgressions, they are more than the hairs of a man's head, and are fitly expressed, both for the weight and quantity of them, by "ten thousand talents". In this light they appear to the conscience of an awakened sinner, who sees that he has been doing nothing but sin, all the days of his life; and that he has been continually breaking the law, one precept or another of it, in thought, word, or deed: which violations of the law, even in word and deed, are risen up to so great a sum, that he is not able to give it to any nearness, and with any exactness; he cannot understand all his errors, nor express the full number of them, or declare all their aggravated circumstances; besides the swarms of corruption of internal lusts and sins, which he observes dwelling in his heart, and are as innumerable as the motes and atoms in a sunbeam. The sins of God's people, which have been all made to meet upon Christ, have been laid upon him by his Father's imputation of them to him, with his own consent, are represented in this manner; see Psalm 40:12. And indeed, if the debts of one of them amount to ten thousand talents, what must the sum of all be, put together! and how great must be the strength and power of Christ, to bear the weight of these sins, and not be broken or discouraged, and fail, as he did not! and what a rich virtue and efficacy must there be in his blood, to pay off all these debts, and make satisfaction for them, which could never have been done, if he had not done it! for, it is impossible that a person in such circumstances as here described, should ever be able to recover himself, or pay his debts, as follows.

(f) Brerewood de Nummis Heb. c. 4. (g) Connection, Vol. 1. Preface, p. 20. (h) Brerewood de Numuis. Heb. c. 4.

And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 18:24 ff. According to Boeckh, Staatshaush. d. Athener, I. p. 15 ff., an (Attic) talent, or sixty minae, amounted to 1375 thalers [about £206 sterling]. Ten thousand talents, amounting to something considerably over thirteen millions of thalers, are intended to express a sum so large as to be well-nigh incalculable. So great was the debt of one (εἷς).

ἐκέλευσεν αὐτὸνἔχει] according to the Mosaic law; Leviticus 25:39; Leviticus 25:47; 2 Kings 4:1; Exodus 22:2. See Michaelis, M. R. § 148; Saalschütz, M. R. p. 706 f. The word αὐτόν is emphatic: that he should be sold, etc. On the present indicative ἔχει (see critical notes), which is derived from the idea of the narrative being direct, comp. Kühner, II. 2, p. 1058.

καὶ ἀποδοθῆναι] and that payment be made. This was the king’s command: it must be paid, viz. the sum due. The fact of the proceeds of the sale not proving sufficient for this purpose did not in any way affect the order; hence ἀποδοθ. is not to be referred merely to the proceeds (Fritzsche). The king wants his money, and therefore does the best he can in the circumstances to get it.

πάντα σοι ἀποδώσω] in his distress and anguish he promises far more than he can hope to perform. And the king in his compassion goes far beyond what was asked (ἀφῆκεν αὐτῷ).

For δάνειον, money lent, comp. Deuteronomy 24:11; found frequently in classical writers since the time of Demosth. 911. 3.Matthew 18:24. εἷς: one stood out above all the rest for the magnitude of his debt, who, therefore, becomes the subject of the story.—ὀφειλέτης μ. τ.: a debtor of, or to the extent of, a thousand talents—an immense sum, say millions sterling; payment hopeless; that the point; exact calculations idle or pedantic. It may seem to violate natural probability that time was allowed to incur such a debt, which speaks to malversation for years. But the indolence of an Eastern monarch must be taken into account, and the absence of system in the management of finance. As Koetsveld (De Gelijk., p. 286) remarks: “A regular control is not in the spirit of the Eastern. He trusts utterly when he does trust, and when he loses confidence it is for ever.”24. ten thousand talents] Even if silver talents are meant, the sum is enormous—at least two million pounds of our money. It was probably more than the whole annual revenue of Palestine at this time; see Joseph. Ant. xii. 4, 4. The modern kingdoms of Norway or Greece or Denmark hardly produce a larger national income.

The vast sum implies the hopeless character of the debt of sin.Matthew 18:24. Ἀρξαμένου, when He had begun) Before the servant knew what was the condition[838] of his fellow-servants.—εἶς προσηνέχθη Αὐτῷ, there was brought unto Him) though against his will.—εἶς, one) sc. a servant, who owed, etc. How great must be the debts of all, if that of one is so great! Every one ought to consider himself as that one; cf. Matthew 18:35; Matthew 18:12, ch. Matthew 20:13; for the condition[839] of all is equal.—μυρίων ταλάντων, of ten thousand talents[840]) The Greek language cannot express by two words, as a distinct and continuous quantity, a larger sum than this. If we ought to remit an hundred denarii to our brother, i.e. forgive him seventy-seven times, what a vast amount of sins does the Lord forgive us in remitting ten thousand talents! A talent contains about six thousand denarii; therefore a thousand talents contain sixty million denarii, of which how small a part are one hundred denarii! For six denarii make a florin, and nine denarii an imperial dollar, or not much more; one Hebrew talent, or two Attic ones, are two thousand two hundred and fifty florins.[841]

[838] “Ratio,” lit. reckoning—i.e. what was the state of their balance or deficit in the debtor and creditor account with their Lord.—(I. B.)

[839] “Ratio.” See preceding footnote.—(I. B.)

[840] The Jewish talent was about £342, 3s. 9d. The talent of gold was worth about £5475.—(I. B.)

[841] There thus results a sum of 15,000,000 thalers, or 22,500,000 florins. If even one servant can become liable for such a debt—and Peter, as also the other Apostles, ought to have considered that servant as a type, each one of himself—what will not the load amount to, which is made up of the accumulated debts remitted by the Lord to the whole collective body of those who obtain grace? And still more of those sins which must be atoned for in the place of torture by those who are the vast majority, whose debt is not remitted in any measure.—V. g.Verse 24. - When he had begun to reckon. This is the same word which is rendered "take account" in the previous verse, and means to compare receipts, expenditure, and balance. One was brought unto him. The defaulter did not come of himself and own his delinquency, but was brought into his lord's presence, probably by some who had discovered his defalcations, and desired to see him punished. Otherwise the phrase may refer merely to Oriental etiquette, according to which no one can cuter the royal presence without being formally allowed the interview, and ceremoniously introduced. Ten thousand talents. It is uncertain what is here meant by a talent, whether of silver or gold, of Jewish, or Attic, or Syriac standard; and, of course, the amount intended is variously understood. We must refer to the Bible dictionaries for an explanation of the term "talent," merely remarking here that the highest estimate would give six millions of our pounds, and the lowest more than half that amount. This huge stun must represent the total revenues of a province, and the debtor must have been a high and much-trusted official. It is used by our Lord to signify the infinite debt the sinner owes to God. Thus in the Lord's Prayer we have, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12). Which owed him (ὀφειλέτης)

Lit., a debtor of ten thousand talents.

Ten thousand talents

An enormous sum; about twelve millions of dollars.

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