Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 355

The Parable of the Talents, which can be found in Matthew 25:14-30, is a story of a rich man who, before going on a journey, divides up his possessions and entrusts three of his servants with different values of talents. To give a little more perspective, a talent was a unit of currency worth about twenty years' wages for a laborer. This master gives one servant five talents, one servant two talents, and the last servant one talent. The first two servants trade and make use of the talents they have been given to the extent that both are able to double their original amount. The third servant takes the one talent and buries it in the ground.

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Upon the master's return, the first two servants receive praise for the way they stewarded the master's money. He says to each of them: "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." However, when the third servant explains that he was afraid and hid the money, the master becomes livid and casts him out.

As with all of Jesus' parables, the Parable of the Talents has a symbolic meaning. To establish the symbolism involved, it is worth looking at the context of the parable in the scope of the chapter. Jesus tells this parable in a series that all relates to how the listener should see and understand the kingdom of God, a motif that is common to Jesus' teaching. The theme of this parable can best be identified in verse 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." In other words, Jesus is using the contrasting actions of the first two servants and third servant to serve as an object lesson of how seekers of the kingdom of God should steward what God has given to them. The bold, faithful, and hardworking servants will be rewarded by God, but the frightened and lazy servants will suffer.

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