Parable of the Talents refers to a story told by Jesus in the Bible covering the verses Matthew 25:14-30. The chapter itself is an attempt by Jesus to explain the Kingdom of Heaven through a series of analogies. First, he draws several briefer analogies and then recounts the extended parable ...
Parable of the Talents refers to a story told by Jesus in the Bible covering the verses Matthew 25:14-30. The chapter itself is an attempt by Jesus to explain the Kingdom of Heaven through a series of analogies. First, he draws several briefer analogies and then recounts the extended parable of the talents.
The first important clue readers receive to the characters of the slaves is the statement:
And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability ... Matthew 25:14
In other words, readers are informed at the beginning of the parable that the initial distribution of talents was not arbitrary but reflected differences in ability and characters among the three slaves.
Next, one should note that this distribution of money was what was known in ancient Rome as a "peculium," property given to slaves that they would be expected to invest in a sort of profit-sharing arrangement where both the slave and the master would benefit. Skilled slaves in ancient Rome, by hard work and skillful management of peculia, could buy their freedom and become quite successful in business. Trimalchio, the fabulously rich host of the Satyricon, become wealthy through clever management of such a peculium.
In the case of Parable of the Talents, two of the slaves do their jobs, investing their peculia and making money for both themselves and their master. The third slave is fearful and hides away the money. The most skilled and enterprising slave is rewarded with more money, which the master can expect him to invest wisely, and the third slave deprived of his peculium due to his mismanagement.
The point of this is that people are given different talents and abilities and are rewarded depending on whether they use these well. For example, a natural athlete can be like the first slave and use her physical prowess to serve in the armed forces defending her country or work as a firefighter or paramedic or just squander that ability by sitting on a couch all day playing video games. Thus the parable suggests that what matters to Jesus is that Christians take the abilities and talents they are given and make good use of them rather than being lazy like the third slave and not using them.