Matthew 25:15
And to 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.
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(15) Unto one he gave five talents.—On the value of the talent see the Note on Matthew 18:24. The languages of modern Europe bear witness, in their use of the word, to the impression which the parable has made. A man’s energies, gifts, capacities, are the “talents,” for the use of which he will have to render an account. We speak, though in this case the word is hardly more than an ill-coined vulgarism, of him who possesses them as “talented.” Common, however, as this use of the word is, it tends to obscure the true meaning of the parable. Here there is an “ability” presupposed in each case, prior to the distribution of the talents, and we are led accordingly to the conclusion that the latter stand here less for natural gifts than for external opportunities—for possessions, offices, what we call “spheres of duty.” These, we are told, are, in the wisdom of God, given to men, in the long run, “according to their several ability.” So taken, the parable does not repeat the lesson of that which precedes it, but is addressed, not as that is to all Christians, but specifically to those who hold any vocation or ministry in the Church of Christ, or have in their hands outward resources for working in it. It is, perhaps, not altogether fanciful to trace, as a first application, in the three-fold scale of distribution, a correspondence with the three groups, four in each, into which the twelve Apostles were divided. The sons of Jona and of Zebedee were as those who had received five talents; the less conspicuous middle group answered to those who received but two; while the “wicked and slothful servant” finds his representative in the only disciple in the third, or last group, who is at all conspicuous.

25:14-30 Christ keeps no servants to be idle: they have received their all from him, and have nothing they can call their own but sin. Our receiving from Christ is in order to our working for him. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. The day of account comes at last. We must all be reckoned with as to what good we have got to our own souls, and have done to others, by the advantages we have enjoyed. It is not meant that the improving of natural powers can entitle a man to Divine grace. It is the real Christian's liberty and privilege to be employed as his Redeemer's servant, in promoting his glory, and the good of his people: the love of Christ constrains him to live no longer to himself, but to Him that died for him, and rose again. Those who think it impossible to please God, and in vain to serve him, will do nothing to purpose in religion. They complain that He requires of them more than they are capable of, and punishes them for what they cannot help. Whatever they may pretend, the fact is, they dislike the character and work of the Lord. The slothful servant is sentenced to be deprived of his talent. This may be applied to the blessings of this life; but rather to the means of grace. Those who know not the day of their visitation, shall have the things that belong to their peace hid from their eyes. His doom is, to be cast into outer darkness. It is a usual way of expressing the miseries of the damned in hell. Here, as in what was said to the faithful servants, our Saviour goes out of the parable into the thing intended by it, and this serves as a key to the whole. Let us not envy sinners, or covet any of their perishing possessions.Five talents - See the notes at Matthew 18:24. The word "talents" here is used to denote indefinitely "a large sum," and is designed to refer to the endowments conferred on people. We have retained in our language the word "talent" as referring to the abilities or gifts of men.

According to his several ability - According to the ability of each one. According as he saw each one was adapted to improve it. So in the church and the world. God gives people stations which he judges them adapted to fill, and requires them to fill them. He makes "distinctions" among people in regard to abilities, and in the powers and opportunities of usefulness, requiring them only to occupy those stations, and to discharge their duties there, 1 Corinthians 4:7.

15. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one—While the proportion of gifts is different in each, the same fidelity is required of all, and equally rewarded. And thus there is perfect equity.

to every man according to his several ability—his natural capacity as enlisted in Christ's service, and his opportunities in providence for employing the gifts bestowed on him.

and straightway took his journey—Compare Mt 21:33, where the same departure is ascribed to God, after setting up the ancient economy. In both cases, it denotes the leaving of men to the action of all those spiritual laws and influences of Heaven under which they have been graciously placed for their own salvation and the advancement of their Lord's kingdom.

Ver. 14,15. There is much the same parable Luke 19:12, but the difference is so great in the narration, and the time, and circumstances, and scope seem so different, that the best expositors think it another, and spoken at another time, though there be much of this in that: I shall therefore leave the consideration of that in Luke, until I meet with it in him, (though some interpreters do think this the same with that), and only consider this, as it is before us in this evangelist. By

the kingdom of heaven, is doubtless here to be understood the economy of God’s providence in his gospel dispensations. The

man travelling into a far country, is Christ ascending up to heaven, who, when he ascended up on high gave gifts unto men, Ephesians 4:8. By

the goods, which the man is said to have delivered to his servants, are to be understood the gifts which God giveth to men, being himself (as to his glorious presence, and his principal residence, which is in heaven, at a great distance from us) as a man in a far country; for I see no reason to restrain these gifts to such as flow from Christ as Mediator, but rather choose to interpret it generally of all the gifts of God, whether of providence or grace. Whereas it is said, Matthew 25:15, that this man divided his goods to his servants unequally,

to one five talents, to another two, to another one, to every man according to his several ability, it signifieth only God’s unequal distribution of his gifts to the sons of men, according to his own good pleasure; which is true both concerning natural parts, as wit, understanding, judgment, memory, as concerning those which the heathens call good things of fortune, as riches, honours, aud dignities; Christians call them the good things of Providence; under which notion also come all acquired habits, or endowments, such as learning, knowledge, moral habits, &c., which though acquired are yet gifts, because it is the same God who gives us power to get wealth, as Moses speaks, Deu 8:18, who also gives men power to get knowledge, and upon study and meditation to comprehend the natures and causes of things, and also to govern and bridle our appetites: or the gifts of more special providence, or distinguishing grace. I take all those powers given to men, by which they are enabled to do good, or to excel others, to come under the notion of the goods here mentioned, which God distributeth unequally according to his own good pleasure, and as seemeth best to his heavenly wisdom, for the government of the world, and the ordering of the affairs of his church; of all which God will have all account one day, and reward men according to the improvement, or no improvement, which they have made of them in their several stations. And unto one he gave five talents,.... A "talent" with the Jews, if of silver, was, according to Brerewood (w), of the value of 375 l. of our money; according to Bishop Cumberland, 353 l. 11 s. 10 1/2 d.; and if of gold, was equal to 4500l. and, according to the latter, 5075 l. 15 s. 7 1/2 d.: so that five of these talents, if of silver, were 1875 l. and if of gold, 22,500 l. according to Brerewood; a very large sum for one servant to be intrusted with. The Persic version reads "pounds", as in Luke 19:13. By these talents, special grace is not meant; for the parable speaks not of what was wrought in these servants, but of what was committed to their trust, and of what might lie useless by them, and be taken away from them; whereas special grace is internal, something, implanted in man, and is an incorruptible seed, that can never be lost, or will be taken away; and it is certain, that one of these servants had not special and saving grace, but was wicked, slothful, and unprofitable, and was cast into utter darkness: but outward gifts are designed by the talents; and these not merely the gifts of natural knowledge and riches, the gifts of nature and of providence; nor the external ministry of the word, Gospel ordinances, and opportunities of enjoying them; but ministerial gifts, such as fit and qualify men to be preachers of the Gospel, as appears from their name, "talents": they being the greatest gifts for usefulness and service in the church, as talents were the greatest of weights and coins among the Jews; from the nature of them, being what may be improved or lost, and for which men are accountable; from the persons to whom they were delivered, the servants of Christ; from the time of their delivery, when Christ went into a far country, to heaven, when he ascended on high, and received gifts for men, and gave them to them; and from the unequal distribution of them, being given to some more, and others less; all which perfectly agree with ministerial gifts: for it follows,

to another two, and to another one; and these were given

to every man, according to his several ability, or "according to his own power"; his proper power that belonged to him, as the Lord of these servants: for the sense is, not that he gave these talents, or gifts, according to the different capacities, abilities, stations, and employments of these men; but according to that power and authority which he, as Mediator, had, to dispense these gifts to each as he would; to some more, others less, as he knew would best serve his interest and kingdom:

and straightway took his journey; after he had signified, that all power in heaven and earth was given to him, by virtue of which he ordered them to go into all the world, and preach his Gospel, and administer his ordinances; for which he had, and would abundantly qualify them; with a promise of his presence with them to the end of the world; he took his leave of them, blessed them, and was parted from them, and went up into heaven.

(w) De Nummis Jud. c. 4.

And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several {c} ability; and straightway took his journey.

(c) According to the wisdom and skill in dealing which was given to them.

Matthew 25:15. Κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν δύναμιν] not arbitrarily, therefore, but according to each one’s peculiar capabilities (“prudentia et peritia,” Beza) for doing business. The different charismatic gifts are bestowed in a manner corresponding to the varying natural aptitudes of men. Those endowments are conferred according to an individualizing principle. “Nemo urgetur ultra quam potest,” Bengel.

εὐθέως] immediately, therefore without making any further arrangements for disposing of the money. Fritzsche, Rinck, and Tisch. 8 agree with B and several codd. of the It. in connecting εὐθέως with what follows. In that case it would be necessary either to insert the δέ of Matthew 25:16 before πορευθ. (א**), or, with Tisch., to delete it altogether (א*). However, the evidence in favour of this view is quite inadequate. And it is precisely in connection with ἀπεδήμησεν that εὐθέως is seen to have a peculiar significance, that, namely, of showing that absolute independence was allowed in regard to the way in which the money was to be employed by those to whom it had been entrusted, which is admirably in keeping with κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν δύναμιν.

τάλαντα] see on Matthew 18:25.Matthew 25:15. πέντε, δύο, ἕν: the number of talents given in each case corresponded to the master’s judgment of the capacity (δύναμιν) of each man. All were supposed to be trustworthy and more or less capable. Even one talent represented a considerable sum, especially for that period when a denarius was a day’s wage.—καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν, and then he went away. So ends the account of the master’s action.—εὐθέως should be connected with πορευθεὶς, whereby it gains significance as indicating the temper of the servant. He lost no time in setting about plans for trading, with the talents entrusted to him (so Fritzsche, Weiss, Schanz, and Holtz., H. C.).15. unto one he gave five talents] In the parable of the Pounds or “minæ,” (Luke 19) each subject receives one pound. Here the truth is indicated that there is variety in the services wrought for God in respect of dignity and of difficulty. More will be required of the influential and enlightened than of the ignorant and poor. “Nemo urgetur ultra quam potest” (Bengel).

talents] See ch. Matthew 18:24. It is from this parable that the word “talents” has passed into modern languages in the sense of “abilities,” or “mental gifts.”Matthew 25:15. Ἔδωκε, κ.τ.λ., gave, etc.) He left them free to choose their method of trafficking without saying, “Give to the bankers.”—πέντεδύοἕν, five—two—one) A parable nearly resembling this occurs in Luke 19:13, where one pound is given to each servant, and the pound of the first produced ten, of the second five, of the third none. The goods which God gives are distributed equitably: and who knows whether, in all their inequality, the most scantily provided is surpassed by the richest more than by five parts? We may compare with this the circumstance, that Plato, in his book on Laws, has not permitted any citizen to possess an income more than five times that of the poorest. See Arist. Polit. ii. 5. A. Ruimer, the Flemish preacher, was of opinion that the Reformed Church had five talents, the Lutheran two, the Roman one. What has the Greek? What have other churches, ancient and modern? What has posterity?—δύναμιν, ability) sc. for trafficking. No one is required to do more than he is able; therefore he is rightfully compelled to render an account.—εὐθέως, immediately, straightway) See the two following chapters.Verse 15. - Unto one he gave five talents. The talent of silver (taking silver as worth a little over 5s. an ounce) was nearly equivalent to £400 of our money. It is from the use of the word "talents" in this parable that we moderns have derived its common meaning of natural gifts and endowments. The three principal slaves receive a certain amount of property to use for their master's profit. To every man. To all is given some grace or faculty which they have to employ to the glory of God. "Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ "(Ephesians 4:7). No one can justly say he is neglected in this distribution. Whatever natural powers, etc., we possess, and the opportunities of exercising and improving them, are the gift of God, and are delivered to us to be put out to interest. According to his several ability (κατὰ τὴν ἰδίαν δύναμιν). The master apportioned his gifts in accordance with his knowledge of the slaves' capacity for business, and the probability of their rightly employing much or little capital. So God distributes his endowments, not to all alike, but in such proportions as men are able to bear and to profit by. The infinite variety in men's dispositions, intellects, will. opportunities, position, and so on, are all taken into account, and modify and condition their responsibility. Straightway took his journey (ἀπεδήμησεν εὐθέως). Immediately after the distribution he departed, leaving each slave, uncontrolled and undirected, to use the property assigned to him. So God gives us free will at the same time that he sets before us opportunities of showing our faithfulness. The Lord may be referring primarily to the apostles whom he left immediately after he had bestowed upon them authority and commission. The Revised Version, Westcott and Hort, Nosgen, and others transfer the adverb "straightway" to the beginning of the next verse (omitting δὲ in that verse). It is supposed to be superfluous here. The Vulgate accords with the Received Text; and there seems to be no sufficient reason for accentuating the first slave's activity above that of the second, who was equally faithful. Several ability (ἰδίαν)

Lit., his own or peculiar capacity for business.

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