Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the End of the Age Part VI: The Parable of the Talents -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 129:515 (Jul 1972)
Article: Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the End of the Age Part VI: The Parable of the Talents
Author: John F. Walvoord


Christ’s Olivet Discourse on the End of the Age
Part VI:
The Parable of the Talents

John F. Walvoord

[John F. Walvoord, President, Dallas Theological Seminary, Editor, Bibliotheca Sacra.]

The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14–30 is the sixth and concluding illustration that our Lord uses relative to preparedness for the second advent. As in previous illustrations, the interpretation relates to those who will be awaiting Christ’s second coming to the earth rather than the rapture of the church. The application of the principles involved, however, may appropriately be considered by those who are looking forward to the rapture of the church and the judgment seat of Christ. The context is not of a lord who takes his servants from earth to heaven, but rather a lord who returns to the scene of earth and judges his servants.

This illustration does not concern itself with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, as seen in the parable of the ten virgins, but rather deals with judgment of works as an evidence of right relationship to the Lord. The parable views life in relationship to service and the proper use of opportunity as evidence of preparedness and expectation of the return of the Lord.

In verse 14, which opens the account, the kingdom of heaven is compared to a man traveling into a far country who calls his own servants and delivered unto them his goods. The reference to “the kingdom of heaven” is omitted from some manuscripts but the parable obviously deals with the period before the Lord’s second advent. It was quite customary in the ancient world for a man to turn his property over to a servant, often a slave, who would administer his business for him in his absence. According to verse 15, he called in three servants. To the 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.” A talent is a sum of money, which varied in its value in different periods of history. A talent was actually a weight of money varying from 58 to 80 pounds.1 A silver talent varied from $1000 to $2000 in value. A gold talent could be worth more than $30,000. It is probable that these talents were silver talents, and that they were worth about $2,000 apiece, but if they were gold talents, they were worth about $30,000 apiece. The purchasing power of this money should be viewed in a context of a person who would work all day for 15¢. The value of a talent was much greater i...

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