February 26, 2023 Frightening Parables Part 3

Frightening Parables

Part Three

Read Matthew 25:14-30.


Having established in the previous lessons that the Parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant and the Parable of the Virgins were both concerned with disciples, and not false professors, we need not reprove this. The Parable of the Talents is, likewise, concerned with us – his disciples.


In order to understand the symbolism in the Parable of the Virgins we saw that a person consists of three parts: a spirit, a soul, and a body. A verse that proves this is I Thessalonians 5:23 –


Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1]

Our human spirit is the deepest part of who we are. Our soul is also an inner aspect of who we are. It consists of our mind, our emotion and our will. Our bodies are how we function in this world. The universe is physical and we need a physical body to interact with it.

When we considered the Parable of the Virgins we also saw that, “to be regenerated, to have the new birth, is to have the Spirit in our spirit, that is, to have the oil in our lamp. To have the Spirit in our soul means that we grow in life, are transformed, are renewed in our whole being, and have our soul saturated with the Holy Spirit of God. This is to have the oil in the vessel. This is the way to be watchful and to be ready for the Lord’s coming.”[2]

The Parable of the Virgins is a parable about watchfulness.  The Parable of the Talents is a parable about faithfulness.

The Parable of the Virgins is about who we are. Are we chaste? Are we filled with the Spirit? The Parable of the Talents is about what we do. Are we using the gifts that God has given us for his kingdom and his glory? Both things will be taken into consideration when he returns. Have we been transformed? And, are we working for the Lord? Our works have nothing to do with our salvation, but they have much to do with our rewards, or our lack thereof, when he comes back.

For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and handed over his possessions to them.[3]

The word “it” refers to the kingdom of heaven, indicating that this parable of the talents, like the parable of the ten virgins, is also concerning the kingdom of heaven. Remember that this phrase, kingdom of heaven, is not heaven. It is the kingdom that belongs to heaven. It is the kingdom that Christ will establish on the earth when he returns. Matthew always uses the phrase in this way. The man here signifies Christ, who was going away on a journey. He went to heaven (Acts 1:11).

Symbolically, what are these possessions that were given to the slaves? They include at least these three things: the gospel, the truth, and the disciples. The disciples are God’s inheritance, God’s possession (Eph. 1:18). Matthew 24:45 indicates that the disciples are also His household.

To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. [4]

“While oil in the parable of the virgins signifies the Spirit of God, talents in this parable signify spiritual gifts (Eph. 4:8; Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:4; 1 Pet. 4:10; 2 Tim. 1:6). For life we need oil, the Spirit of God, even His fullness, that we may be enabled to live the virgin life for the Lord’s testimony; for service, for work, we need the talent, the spiritual gift, that we may be equipped as a good slave for the accomplishment of the Lord’s work.”[5]

In verse 14, the “man” entrusts his possessions to his slaves. Remember, the word for slaves (doulos) is always used in the NT for genuine followers of Christ, never for unbelievers. What are these possessions? Well, verse 15 says that he gives talents. The possessions are the talents. So, what is a talent? A talent was a measure of weight often used in measuring silver or gold. It is clear that our Lord is using the word as a metaphor for the gifts that a person has. In that sense, and somewhat by coincidence, the English word, talent, is quite appropriate because it denotes both the gold or silver in the parable as well as what they represent, that is, the actual talents of the slaves.

But, we can dig a little deeper. The slaves in the parable are supposed to do something with what they have been given. But, what they have been given belonged to the Lord. When the Lord returns he wants to know if they increased what they have been given. Therefore, we need to ask, “What does the Lord own that he wishes to see increased?” If we ask that question and consider the many things that the Lord has taught already in the book of Matthew, as well as the other gospels, we see that there are, at least, three things that the Lord wants his disciples to labor with and increase. They are the gospel, the truth, and other disciples. The Lord wishes that the gospel increase. He came to proclaim the truth (John 18:37). And, he wants the disciples to increase on the earth (Matthew 13:18-23; 28:18-20).

We must use the gifts the Lord has given us to increase the gospel. We must use the gifts the Lord has given us to increase the knowledge of the truth. We must us the gifts the Lord has given us to make more disciples as well as to care for the disciples that are already here.

The gospel needs to become our possession. The same is true of the truth and our fellow believers (or disciples). We share the gospel. We speak the truth. We make disciples.

“We should not wait in an indifferent way for the Lord to give us something. No, we must diligently seek the gospel and the truth. We should be eager to know the fall of man, redemption, regeneration, salvation, the cleansing of the blood, and the washing of the Spirit. All these are aspects of the full gospel. The more you receive of the gospel, the more talents you will have. We need to pray that the Lord would help us to know the truth and to experience it. We need to experience the truth concerning the church, God’s eternal purpose, and God’s economy. Eventually, these truths will become our talent. Then we shall be able to minister them to others. In this way, the Lord’s possessions become our talent.” [6]

Let us consider the last possession of the Lord first: the disciples, or our fellow believers. We need to care for one another. We care for one another by meeting each other’s needs. As soon as we recognize a need that a brother or sister has, we should not wait for some kind of “prompting” to help. We do not need to wait because the Lord has already commanded us in this regard:

If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?[7]

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. [8]

Sometimes the Lord will give us a burden for someone. This is just the Lord’s grace on us. We ought to be helping anyone in the church who needs it but sometimes we don’t know who needs help and sometimes we may know, but we need a little incentive. So the Lord stirs our heart. Make sure you follow! Remember, too, that our Lord said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. You will be blessed when you give!

He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. [9]

To trade with the talents signifies using the gift the Lord has given us, and to gain other talents signifies that when we use our gift we see results. There is an increase in the gospel going forth. People’s lives are changed because we spoke the truth. Or, people come to faith in Christ. None of these things happen merely because we spoke or merely because we helped someone. The Spirit must operate upon the hearts of those who hear us. We never know when that will happen. Yet, we still must be putting our talents into use.

But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.[10]

It is very easy for the least-gifted ones to fail to make the proper use of their gift. Just because we may feel that we have little talent, we ought not to get discouraged nor become fearful. This corresponds to the follower of Christ who receives the gospel but does nothing with it. They keep it to themselves. The one-talent person is someone who may recognize that they are not very gifted so, although they know some truth, they neither seek further truth nor tell others the truth that they possess. Instead of speaking the truth of God to others, they will talk about all kinds of other things: sports, politics, what-have you. But the truth of God is hidden in the ground. They don’t deny it, but they don’t speak it either. Neither have they ever made another disciple. Who have you brought to the Lord? How long have you been a Christian?

Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. [11]

“After a long time…” Indeed, hasn’t our Lord been gone a long time? So far, he has been gone 1,993 years! But he is coming back! Nothing is more certain. It is more certain that Jesus is coming back than you know your own name. You know, there is small chance that two babies born the same day in the same hospital were misidentified. Maybe you were one of those babies. Maybe you think your name is John, but that’s the other baby’s name. So, you’ve been going by John your whole life but your real name is Richard. That is possible. But it’s not possible that Jesus is not returning because he said he was and the apostles recorded this for us.

 “The coming signifies the Lord’s coming to the air (1 Thes. 4:16) in His parousia. To settle accounts signifies the Lord’s judgment at His judgment seat (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10) in the air (within His parousia), where the believers’ life, conduct, and work will be judged for reward or punishment (1 Cor. 4:5; Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12; 1 Cor. 3:13-15).”[12]

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.’ 21 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.’[13]

“The ‘little’ here signifies the Lord’s work in this age, “over” signifies the ruling authority in the coming kingdom, and the ‘much’ signifies the responsibilities in the coming kingdom. The joy of the Lord signifies the enjoyment of the Lord in the coming kingdom. This is the inward satisfaction, not the outward position. To participate in the Lord’s joy is the greatest reward, better than the glory and position in the kingdom. Here we see two aspects of the reward given to the faithful slave: authority and enjoyment. The faithful will enter directly into the Lord’s presence in the manifestation of the kingdom.”[14]

The two-talented slave is given the same reward as the five-talented slave. This indicates that the Lord’s appraisal and reward are not related to the size and quantity of our work nor to how much gifting we have but, rather, to our faithfulness in using what has been entrusted to us.

Even if the one-talent slave had used what he had been given instead of burying it, he too would have been commended. It is not a matter of what we have, nor how little we have. It is a matter of what we do with it.

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,[15]

The one-talented one, who did not gain any profit for the Lord, also came to the judgment seat of Christ. This proves that he is not only saved, but also raptured to the air. No unsaved person could be raptured and come to the judgment seat of Christ.

This slave accuses the master of things that are not true. He calls him a hard man. But the Lord is not hard! He is meek and gentle (2 Cor 10:1). He accuses him of reaping where he did not sow. This, too, is false. The Spirit of God both influences and empowers the heart of the slave as well as those to whom he brings the message, so that some can respond. He accuses him of gathering where he did not scatter seed. Again, this is a false charge. The Spirit goes ahead of us as the blowing wind (John 3:8) so that, even though the message comes through us, it is the Lord himself who is doing the sowing (Matthew 13:24).

so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 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? [16]

Between what the one-talent slave says and how the master answers him, we see the reasons for the slave’s failure. The Master calls him wicked. This is a general characterization of his disposition and his actions. Wickedness may take a hundred different forms. But the Lord identifies one sinful trait and the slave himself identifies another. The master says he is slothful. That means lazy. This is one of the reasons why the Lord’s servants do not increase what the Lord has granted to them. It is because they are lazy!  They would rather sit in their chair than speak to others. We will see in a moment what happens to the lazy Christian.

The slave admits that he was afraid. He was afraid of whom? Today, one reason why many will not proclaim the gospel is because they are afraid of rejection. That excuse will never stand at the Judgment Seat! The fearful will not inherit the kingdom of God (John 14:27; 2 Tim. 1:7; Rev. 21:8). But, here, this slave is afraid of the master himself. Actually, we are to fear God. This truth is stated about 1000 times in the Bible! To fear God is a good thing. It motivates us. But, if our fear prevents us from serving him and loving him then that fear becomes sinful.

Merely to keep the Lord’s gift and not lose it is not sufficient; we must gain a profit by using it.

Do you know what will happen if we use the talent that we have? It will increase. Even if you think you only have one talent, use it. If you use it, then it will become two. Then, when you have two, use them. They will become four. Some of us are not seeing an increase because we are not exercising our talents.

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. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.[17]

The Lord says that he should have at least invested the money with bankers. This signifies giving to the church so that there will be some kind of gain with what the Lord has given. But notice that what is gained is only interest. It is less than doubling.[18] Thus, the Lord’s best desire for us is that we use our talents ourselves in order to expand the kingdom. However, if we remain slothful and fearful then we ought to at least invest our talent into the church.

So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 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.[19]

For those who do not use their talents to increase the Lord’s possessions, even what they have will be taken away. This will happen in the next age. Do you see what is at stake? Our life, our blessing, the richness of the Lord’s bounty, are all at peril if we do not use what we have! Don’t be like Esau who did not care for his birthright, but cared more for his bodily appetities. You must know that there are some Christians just like Esau. They do not care for their birthright as inheritors of the kingdom. They care more for their appetites and comforts. Just like Esau. You know what the Lord thought of Esau.

For those who are faithful, they will receive the bounty that should have gone to others. For the faithful, the next age will be glorious beyond our expectations!

And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ [20]

The phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is used six times in the Gospel of Matthew. It is used twice concerning the lost. But it is used four times to refer to genuine believers. As was pointed out in the Parable of the Faithful and Wise Slave, the outer darkness is a place where those who are followers of Christ, but have not overcome, go during the Millennial reign. It is where they await the final judgment.

“In both chapters twenty-four and twenty-five we see the matters of reward and punishment. According to 24:47, the reward to the faithful and prudent slave is that the Lord will set him over all His possessions. The evil slave, who beats his fellow slaves and eats and drinks with the drunken, will be cut asunder and have his portion with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (24:49-51). In chapter twenty-five the five-talented one and the two-talented one are rewarded by being put over many things and by entering into the joy of the Lord. The slothful, one-talented slave, however, is punished by being cast into outer darkness. To many Christian teachers, being cast into outer darkness denotes eternal perdition of a false believer. But the context proves that this is not an accurate understanding. This is not the punishment of false believers, but of genuine believers who are not faithful. It does not refer to eternal perdition, but to punishment during the coming kingdom age.”[21]

What then ought we to do? This parable, like the two preceding it, were given by our Lord in order to emphasize and impress upon us the importance of what he said to his disciples in 24:44 –

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. [22]

What must we do? We must be ready for the Lord’s return! He could come at any time!

How do we get ready? By using the Lord’s possessions to his glory and to their increase. We proclaim the gospel. We speak the truth. We make disciples and we care for the disciples.

The only way that we can use the Lord’s possessions in this way is to know the gospel better than we know anything else. We must be intimately familiar with the truth so that we can speak the truth. The more we abide in his word, the more we will know these things. The more we abide in his word, the more we will care for our fellow disciples because the word also transforms our hearts.

Put down your electronic devices and pick up the Bible. Read it. Study it. Enjoy it. Then go for the increase!


We share the gospel. We speak the truth. We make disciples. And, we care for the disciples already among us.




[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Th 5:23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Witness Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Messages 65

[3] Legacy Standard Bible (2021). (Mt 25:14). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Witness Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Messages 65

[6] Ibid

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jas 2:15–16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Jn 3:16–18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:16–17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:19). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[12] Witness Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Messages 65

[13] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:20–21). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[14] Witness Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Messages 65

[15] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:24). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[16] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:25–26). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[17] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:27–28). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[18] Of course, it is possible that one could double their money just with interest over a long period of time. But, our Lord is communicating the superiority of using our talents for him to increase his possessions and that “investing with the bankers” was a fall-back possibility – better than burying it, but inferior to personal action.

[19] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:28–29). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[20] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[21] Witness Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Messages 66

[22] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 24:44). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.