Matthew 25:15 (To Each According to His Own Ability)

In the Olivet discourse Jesus has warned His disciples about the need to be on the alert lest His coming catch them by surprise, and is now expounding in a series of parables upon the implications to them of what it means to keep watch.  Here in the parable of the talents He likens the kingdom of heaven that He came to establish on earth to a man about to go on a journey who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.  The man represents Christ Himself, who was about to go to the cross as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (1Jo 2:2).  Having disarmed the principalities and powers He then ascended on high to the right hand of the Father and gave gifts to men, sending forth the Holy Spirit, and “waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet”; see Col 2:15, Eph 4:8, Heb 10:12-13.  The slaves represent His own disciples, and in addition to the manifestation of His Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit that He would pour out from heaven, the possessions He entrusted to them are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that compose the gospel of our salvation; see Col 2:3 and cf. Pro 3:13-15, 8:11,18-21, Mat 24:35.  Paul refers to this as the paraqh,kh (paratheke), the good deposit or treasure that has been entrusted to us; see 1Ti 6:20, 2Ti 1:12[1],14.

In what manner does Jesus in the parable say He entrusted His possessions to His slaves?  See Mat 25:15.  While the Father entrusted to One, Jesus Christ, the care of the Church as His treasured possession and made Him head over all to reign from heaven, was there just one to whom Christ entrusted His treasured possessions who would be head over all upon the earth?  Whereas Peter, James and John were recognized as leaders among the disciples and in the early Church, was it the case that what was entrusted to them included a supremacy in the Church to dictate how others were to use what was entrusted to them?  Or was each to be individually accountable to each other and ultimately to the master?  See Mat 25:19-25, 18:15-17, 20:25-26a; cf. Gal 2:6-9 and the Jerusalem Council in Act 15.  What does this teach us about the claims to supremacy over others within the Church first made by Rome, but also by the church in the East, and even by various Protestant churches who had the power of the crown to support them?  Contrast Mat 20:26b-28 and see Mat 24:48-49; cf. Rom 14:4, Jam 4:11-12.

Did all the slaves have the same amount of the man’s treasure entrusted to them?  What words in Mat 25:15 describes how it was apportioned to them?  Did the man in the parable, who represents Christ, deem all men to have the same ability?  Should we?  Does the fact that some men have greater ability than others mean that others are less important to the well-functioning of the body for the work the Master has left to His slaves?  Cf. 1Co 12:22.  If one does have greater ability, what responsibility also comes with being entrusted with more than others?  See Luk 12:48b.  Shall then those who have less ability and are entrusted with less envy those who have been entrusted with more?  In what way does such envy, rooted in greed, cause people to seek after more than that of which they are capable of being a good steward, so that they end up being a bad steward of what is in their possession?  If one has in his possession more material resources than he can faithfully manage, what could he do to lessen his burden that would also benefit others and actually demonstrate a better stewardship for the kingdom of God of the things entrusted to him?  See Mat 19:21, Act 2:45, 4:36-37.  If one finds himself in a position that requires more than his ability allows him to be successful at, what could he do to become more successful from a kingdom perspective?  See Jam 4:10, 1Pe 5:6; cf. Luk 3:14, Phil 4:11, 1Ti 6:8, Heb 13:5.

Was there any servant of the Man, whether stated explicitly or implied, who was deemed so incapable as to be entrusted with nothing at all, as if nothing at all would be expected from him?  What does this again remind us of how each one of us has been entrusted with something, however small, which we are responsible to manage for the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom and for which we will be held accountable?[2]  What does it also remind us about those whom the Lord purchases to be His own slaves (Mat 25:14)?  Are they deemed worthless and incapable, or were they chosen to be His servants because they were deemed choice and valuable in His sight to faithfully discharge the trust committed to them?  In fact, how much did the man entrust to each of His slaves?  How much was a talent worth?  Notice that a talent was worth 6000 denarii, and a denarius was equivalent to a day’s work for a laborer; hence a single talent was worth the equivalent of 15-20 years wages for an average worker.  What does this remind us about the true value of what has been entrusted to even those with the least ability who are called into God’s kingdom?  Cf. Mat 13:44-45.

[1] What I have entrusted to Him in 2Ti 1:12 may also be translated as what has been entrusted to me; literally my deposit or entrustment.

[2] “Christ keeps no servants to be idle.”  Matthew Henry.