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Posts Tagged ‘talent is a sum of money’

Parable of the Talents Matthew 25

Posted by adventbiblestudy on September 16, 2008

Detailed studies into the parables of Jesus

An eBook with a collection of short stories and studies about the people Jesus met and the Parables He told them. A behind the scene short story on all of Jesus’ parables in Matthew.

This type of study illustrates how you can easily uncover information most people take for granted. We will take a look at a very familiar and often studied parable and list the common interpretation. From there we will look at the Bible to see if the common interpretation agrees with what we have learned.

KJV Matthew 25:15-18
15. And unto 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.
16. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

Here we have what is commonly referred to as the parable of the talents. When asked, most people insist the talents represent spiritual gifts. How do we know this is an accurate interpretation? The most common answer I receive is, “everyone knows that.” Chances are this is exactly what is going through your mind. This is exactly what went through my mind. I never considered investigating this until someone questioned me on the text.

My first step in researching this type of question is to look at the definition of the word talent. The first step is to look up the Strong’s number for the word. Using the literal translation of the verse locate the Strong’s number for the word number corresponding to the Greek dictionary.

LIT Matthew 25:15
15. |2532| and |3739| to one |3303| indeed |1325| he gave |4002| five |5007| talents. |3739| to one |1161| And |1417| two |9999| {talents}. |3739| to one |1161| And |1520| one |9999| {talent}. |1538| To each |2596| by |3588| the |2398| own |1411| ability, |2532| and |0589| went abroad |2112| immediately.

The word talent is word number 5007. Locate this number in the Greek dictionary. Old Testament words are found in the Hebrew dictionary. New Testament words are found in the Greek dictionary.

Talent is word number 5007:

Strong’s Ref. # 5007 talanton Pronounced tal’-an-ton
neuter of a presumed derivative of the original form of tlao (to bear; equivalent to GSN5342); a balance (as supporting weights), i.e. (by implication) a certain weight (and thence a coin or rather sum of money) or “talent”:

By definition a talent is a sum of money. The next step is to look at other texts the word talent is used to see if it has a spiritual meaning. After reviewing other text I found the word talent is always used in reference to either money or a weight. The word talent simply means money. It has no spiritual meaning or literal connection to gifts. So where did this relationship between a talent (money) and spiritual gifts come from?

While looking at this text one phrase jumped out at me, “according to his several ability.” Since I was already in the literal translation I took a look at the word ability.

Strong’s Ref. # 1411 dunamis Pronounced doo’-nam-is
from GSN1410; force (literally or figuratively); specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself):

The word ability sheds all the light we need on this subject. There is no connection between talents (money) and spiritual gifts. The connection to gifts comes from the word ability which means, “miraculous power or miracle.”

KJV 1 Peter 4:11
11. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

I can see how someone, long ago may have found this connection between our abilities and miracles. I can understand how they would have arrived at a connection between these abilities and spiritual gifts. It may have been more than 100 years ago when the first sermon was preached on the abilities in the parable of talents representing spiritual gifts. It is quite ironic that the origin of this sermon and knowledge of its originator has been lost, yet the sermon has been repeated for many years. Over the years the original sermon may have changed, but the original meaning of the parable has remained intact. Over time, someone changed the meaning of the sermon to indicate the talents represent spiritual gifts and not the abilities. I doubt if anyone has the ability to show how money is connected to spiritual gifts. People began accepting the connection between money and spiritual gifts and it became the accepted interpretation. It turns out the true connection is located in the same parable only a few words away. Maybe there is a message in this arrangement.

From this I can see why preachers refer to spiritual gifts when they teach on the parable of the talents. It is not the talents, or money God is interested in but the ability He is able to develop. Are we using our abilities to the fullest?

It is not the talents or money that represent spiritual gifts, it is the ability that should be the focal point of the sermon. We are given gifts from God. It does not matter if these gifts are physical or spiritual, if we do not use them they will be wasted and taken away. But if we share our gifts with others, we can never imagine the returns we may receive. When we exercise our gifts, God will give us the ability to perform miracles.

KJV Matthew 13:23
23. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Matthew the Stories of Jesus’ Ministry is now available for download in a series of three eBooks.  Link here to order your copies today.

Here are a couple of Bible Study Internet resources I have been using. I have to tell you. I have been learning so much from these classes taught for free by pastor, teacher, and lecturer Dr. Lee Gugliotto. He has taught classes in biblical languages, theology, and hermeneutics at several seminaries. His book, Handbook for Bible Study, was awarded a Gold Medallion, the equivalent of an Oscar for Christian writers. Since working with Dr. Lee, my insight into God’s Word has more than tripled.

WebStudy is a virtual classroom over the Internet. It will train you to listen for God’s voice in the text so the Bible can explain itself. You will master study basics that lay the foundations for deeper personal learning.

QuikerStudy relies on the way the Holy Spirit led Bible writers to express truth God revealed to them. It equips you to use basic Bible study tools and to understand scripture guided by three simple principles––integrated into a single skill. Easy enough for children, it is the ultimate online inductive experience for the whole family.

CuppaJ Cafe serves the most satisfying CuppaJesus in town. We brew up a fresh daily devotion, verse-by-verse from the text to bring out its full flavor. Then we share each daily devotional with those who come to the Cafe to give the group a taste of what the text has to offer, so they can have a deeper, personal learning experience with Christ later that day.

How we brew up the word:

  • First, we define words, explain the meaning of figures and symbols, and acquaint them with people, places, and things in the text
  • Then, we lead the people on a simple trip through the text
  • Pour out a Christian thought from it, and…
  • Invite everyone to interpret the text from the writer’s words
  • Finally, we challenge everyone to spend time in the text alone with Christ later in the day to pour out another and better CuppaJesus from the same brewHttp://

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