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Whereas the Master in the Parable of the Talents rewarded His faithful servants by putting them in charge of many things and receiving them into His joy as fellow participants in the establishment of His kingdom, He took away the talent of the unfaithful servant who did nothing with it and gave it to him who already had ten talents.  “For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Mat 25:30).  In addition to depriving the unfaithful slave of his talent, what final judgment did the Master mete out to him?  See Mat 25:30.

Earlier, the Master called this servant wicked and lazy, how else does He refer to him in this verse?  Notice that the NAS worthless or KJV unprofitable means useless, good for nothing.  How is that like tares or chaff in the day of harvest, or an unfruitful branch on the vine, or a piece of wood from the vine that has been separated from the root?  Cf. Luk 13:6, Joh 15:2-6, Eze 15:2-6.  What does this again emphasize about the Lord’s purpose in redeeming a people, not so they can continue to serve their former taskmaster of sin, but so they can serve Him in making His kingdom fruitful?  Cf. Exo 8:1,20, 9:1,13, 10:3.  Although every person has inherent worth having been created in the image of God, does that necessarily mean that they will be found worthy of their high calling as His image-bearer and cannot be found worthless in the eyes of the Lord?  What does this parable teach us about what it means to have worth in the sight of the Lord?  Is it possible that many people who have low self-esteem feel worthless because they are not doing anything worthwhile for God’s kingdom with their talents?

On what two other occasions did Jesus refer to someone being cast out into outer darkness?  See Mat 8:12, 22:13.  What is the significance that in each of these instances, those who were cast out were at one time in, and might have remained in if not for something for which they themselves were responsible?  What does this remind us about the part that we ourselves have in our salvation?  Cf. Rom 12:1-2, Phi 2:12-13, 2Pe 1:5-11.

What is meant by the “outer” darkness?  Note that in one sense “outer” may refer simply to “outside” as the NIV translates it in this context (“throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness”).  Consider in this regard that those on the outside are separated from the presence of the Lord and yet in some capacity still able to observe the joy and festive happiness of those who are on the inside in the kingdom of God; cf. Luk 13:25-29, Luk 16:23.  How does this help us to understand the nature of the weeping and gnashing of teeth in that place?  Is such just a description of the suffering and misery of Hell?  Or are these especially the torments of those who were once near to the kingdom of God, and might have entered into its happiness but for their love for the world and choosing its vanities over God’s eternal riches?  Cf. Heb 11:24-26.  In what way is such darkness a fitting recompense to a slothful servant?  See Joh 9:4.

Notice also that the Greek word for outer is a comparative that “largely replaced the superlative, often retaining the superlative meaning farthest out, extreme” (Friberg lexicon); cf. Exo 26:4 where the same word is used in the LXX for “outermost”.  What does this indicate about the darkness into which those servants who were nearest to the truth but disobedient are cast, and their proximity to the light of the Lord’s presence?  See Jude 1:6,13; cf. Mat 23:33, 2Th 1:9.  What do these words of the Master in the parable indicate about the plight of sinners after the final judgment and the nature of hell being utter darkness without even the hope of a glimmer of light from the Lord?  What does this remind us about the great danger of rejecting the light of the Lord’s truth?  What does such darkness represent in a spiritual sense?  See Luk 8:16-18, 11:33-35; cf. Deu 28:28-29, Job 5:13-14, 12:24-25, Psa 82:5, 107:10-14, Pro 4:18-19, Isa 60:1-2, Joh 3:19-20, 8:12, 12:46, Act 26:18.  With this understanding, should we necessarily assume that God’s consigning of men to outer darkness is only and entirely future to this life?  Cf. Rom 1:21,22,24,26,28, 2Th 2:9-12.  How do these things help us to understand the manner in which men are cast outside from the light of the Lord’s presence into the darkness, and especially into the most extreme, outer darkness?  In what way was this true of the unbelieving Jews who rejected Him?  Is it true of us?  Are we embracing the light of the truth to enter eternal life, or rejecting it and being cast into outer darkness as happened to the unbelieving Jews?  What weeping and gnashing of teeth in darkness has been theirs for the past 2000 years for rejecting that light?

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