His followers should live
await His return
His other parables have emphasized being prepared as a lifestyle (Matthew 24:50; 25:13). The setting of this parable is familiar. A wealthy landowner is going away and leaving some servants in charge of his possessions. Now Jesus adds that what He is giving is what modern people would refer to as "cash," meaning physical currency. He gives three different amounts to three different servants: five talents to one, two to another, and one talent to the last one.
The original word "talent" refers to a unit of weight.
Applied to money, a "talent" was a
considerable amount of some precious metal,
anywhere from 58 to 80 pounds.
The value of a "talent" could
vary widely depending
on whether the metal was gold, silver, or something else.
Regardless, any metal with a monetary value would make a "talent" a considerable sum. Scholars speculate that the standard talent of Jesus' era was worth about 6,000 denarii. Since a common laborer was paid one denarius per day of work, a single talent
represented twenty years of working-class wages.
So, one, two, and five talents would all have made
for enormous amounts of money.
Jesus says that the man gave the differing amounts to each servant
according to his ability. The point is not merely for the master to hand them coins, and have those same coins handed back. The master expects the servants to apply these resources, so they will grow (Matthew 25:27). He estimated the business potential of each person and divided his money between them
in that proportion.
As the parable continues, the message will become clear. God distributes abilities and resources to people on earth, as He sees fit, and
expects them to diligently
use those resources for godly purposes