Since it involves the distributions and use of money — called “minas” — the Parable of the Ten Minas (or Ten Talents) is often interpreted from a financial angle. I actually don’t think it’s truly about money, though it does contain some obvious lessons about the resources we are given.
Let’s start by taking a look at the parable.
Luke 19:12-26 (NIV)
He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
“He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
“The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
“‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
“His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
“His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
“Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
“‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
Is the Parable about Money?
Though Jesus uses money in the parable, it’s unlikely that He was talking about it specifically, particularly in regard to growing it. We have to remember that Jesus came into the world not for money, but for people. The money reference therefore was most certainly only symbolic.
Consider also, that if Jesus had any money at all the Bible doesn’t tell us as much. As well, we have no examples in which Jesus sends his disciples out with money that needs to be grown in order to honor Him. Clearly, He was using this parable to describe something other than money, even though money is used to tell the story. Pure speculation on my part here, but maybe Jesus was using money because He knew that it would help His listeners to understand what He was trying to tell them.
A common non-monetary interpretation of the parallel — and the one I believe to be correct — is that Jesus was describing how the Kingdom of God would flow, and what our responsibilities would be in helping it do so.
Very briefly, the king in the parable is Jesus Himself (“…went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return”). The two servants who grew their minas to five and ten, were those followers who embraced the mission and multiplied what they had been given. They would each be given cities to rule over (great in the Kingdom).
The servant who hid the money in fear was given the same resources, but did nothing with them because He didn’t really believe (or even disagreed). Finally we have those who didn’t want Him to be king — the citizens of the country he visited. They would be killed (the Judgment) for their lack of belief in him.
Using the Time and Talents You’ve Been Given
The minas in the parable, I believe, are representative of resources God gives us to do the work of the Kingdom on Earth. First, there are spiritual resources. It starts with the gift of salvation; once we have it we’re to tell others of it (sharing). Then there’s revelation. Each of us have varying degrees of spiritual revelation. We can think of it as spiritual understanding where God opens our eyes to various teachings, and it’s a way of reaching out to others on a different level.
We’re also given resources in the form spiritual gifts. In Romans 12:6-8, the Apostle Paul lists some of these as prophesying, serving, teaching, encouragement, giving, leading and showing mercy.
We also have skills that can be used to spread the Gospel. We’re all spread across the employment and business spectrum and that gives us a chance to witness to those who don’t believe. God can use us where ever we are. In addition, by being good at the occupational work we do, we display integrity to those around us. And sometimes, we can even use our work skills to help others. Think about an accountant who helps another believer (or non-believer) with his tax returns, or a repairman who helps with repair work at church. Each of us can witness wherever we are and in different ways through our skills.
Finally, there’s time. We don’t always think of it as a resource, but it is. We can use what time we have to volunteer at church, to help our neighbors, and to witness to others.
Each of these are resources that have nothing to do with money. I think this is what the minas symbolize in the parable.
There Might be a Money Connection . . .
Does money fit into this parable at all? Even though it’s not as important as we may interpret it to be at first glance, I think it’s in there too.
Like all the items listed above, money is also a resource. It can be used to further the Kingdom. Money can be used to do this by using it to support the church, to help the hurting and by supporting outreach ministries. And if it frees up the holders time, it can allow him or her to do mission work or to participate in outreach efforts closer to home.
There’s also the matter of stewardship. Like all resources, money is to be grown and preserved (as opposed to hoarded). Properly managed, money can be used as a resource in the advancing of the Kingdom. By having money, you can be in a position to help others and provide the financing to spread the Gospel.
Money isn’t the mina, but it is a component.
Whatever the mina is, whether it’s revelation, spiritual gifts, talents, time — or money — our greatest goal should be to use it to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. And when our lives are over we’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)
What do you believe this parable is about? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
I believe the Parable is about people who listens to the Gosple and put into use by recruiting as many souls for the kingdom. Now comparing to ones that listens to the Gosple and come to take and not sharing it with others. They just abused it and make excuses.
Kevin M says
Hi Marie–I completely agree with your interpretation. The emphasis on money can send us into a detour that misses the main point.
Leeanne O says
Personally, I do think it is talking about money. The principle of “he who is faithful over little will be faithful over much” is at work here. When we are good stewards over physical things, he will reward us with responsibilities over spiritual things. Kinda like the leaders in the Church being required to manage their households well before leading the Church
Kevin M says
Hi Leeanne–I agree it has something to do with money but that isn’t the main focus. Most Bible teachings have multiple implications.
i think you’re absolutely right. i must have been blinded all these years. we are so much into the money thing, we’re blinded. thank you for sharing.
Kevin M says
Hi Sylvia–Don’t blame your self for missing it. We’re a money-centric culture and tend to attach financial meaning even where there is none. I think there is a monetary connection, but it’s far from the main point.
I think it can be about money and the kingdom. A concept my leaders talk about is the: both/and. Sometimes it is appropriate to for both to be acceptable. Secondly, I think it is about walking out in faith, without fear and risk taking too.
Kevin M says
Hi Kent–Like I wrote to Leeanne, most teachings have mutliple implications. Money may be one but it isn’t the only and probably not the most significant.
lisa celeste says
i can tell you what this means to me. i was praying about getting a job, what kind, where, ect. well the Lord spoke to my Spirit and asked me to recall this parable. so i did. He asked me “why did the man with one talent hid it?”. swo i said “because when he looked at what they had he felt what he had was insignificant”. the Lord said to me “that’s correct”. and He asked me “what is your talent?” and i knew He was not talking about money at this moment. so i said “lord, when i tested for college i scored so low on reading and math, the only thing i scored really high on was abstract thinking”. the Lord asked me “what is that” (of course HE knew). so i said it’s creativity, but what good is that?” the Lord said “iam creative!”. i tell you what, i now know i have a purpose! i have some goals (and i have always been a giver, and have always dreamed of giving bigger- much much bigger!).
Thanks, this was awesome. I have felt really convicted lately about this same thing. Wasting time because my talents compared to others are so mediocre that I have literally hidden them.
Kevin M says
Hi Ness–I think the take away here is that we should use what ever talents we have, no matter how small. We may not see the results of our “little contributions” now, but one day we will and we’ll be surprised. God can magnify what ever we do, many times over.
Kevin M says
Hi Lisa–Prayer puts everything into perspective. This is a complicated parable, and I think the answers you got addresses just how much.
Even with few talents you are not insignificant to God and we are all viewed equal by Him. And through the few talents, there are many potential for you to multiply it more than just double FOR HIS KINGDOM. I must impress the importance of doing it all FOR GOD. Let’s say we multiplied the talent that is given. That doesn’t mean it is job done, and we could always multiply further from there. I think you are blessed with the special gift of creativity and God loves your dedication. And with your desire to give and give much more, you will have no less than greatness in Heaven. There is also this other parable where the poor had given more that the rich.
This is a wonderful parable and can be interpreted many ways. I believe it applies to everyone as there is a lesson in it for everyone. We all are blessed with something (and it isn’t limited to money). Identify what your talent(s) or gift(s) are and use them for the glory of God through Kingdom building. Talk to others about God & His goodness, share a meal, give a financial gift, give someone a ride, clean someone’s house, babysit to give a parent a break, listen to someone who needs to talk, teach someone to read, help someone develop a spending plan, etc. We are to give of ourselves and incorporate God into the action with love love. It’s a story about being selfless.
Kevin M says
Hi Joanne–I agree. This is one of those parables that we have to avoid getting to specific with. There’s more going on here than we may think so we need to interpret it in the broadest possible context.
I agree with you Joanne. It just shows how God’s word is living and speaking to all of us where we need to hear God.
Wei Yong says
I believe that the parable is about faithful financial management. God is just as concerned about how we use money wisely and faithfully. If Jesus wanted to illustrate the point for His followers to make good use all other talents outside of money, He would have been very plain about it, just as He has used money to fit into this parable.
Kevin M says
Hi Wei–I’m not sure of your interpretation. Think about this…Jesus was talking to farmers, fisherman and poor folk. Talents/minas were gold, and they didn’t have them. I think they’re symbolic. But that’s my take.
There are different interpretations and it may be that none are wrong.
To be able to work in any industry you will need to have the skill. Here we are openly explained how the Kingdom work and how our work is being outlined. In any work environment you will be given your daily task and goals that is outlined to grow the company. So with this parable, our tasks has been outlined with everyone in mind even the one that will make up excuses. This is a call on all wheter ur talented or not to come work for the Kingdom. This parable have not excluded any willing person. The harvst is plenty, but workers are few.
Kevin M says
Hi Ernest–I completly agree, it applies to everyone with what ever skills we were put into the world with. We can think of it as our “marching orders”.
Kevin M says
YES Cherleen, exactly! It’s all the gifts (resources) we have and that’s much more than money.
David Hinkley says
You are so right that this parable has many facets. First and foremost I think it is about the resources He has given us to do His business while He is away. (Money, time, talents). It also points to the fact that the way is narrow and few find it. Only 2 of ten were successful, and the one who did nothing with what was given him, now has nothing, however he was not cast into outer darkness like the lazy servant in Matt 25:30. ( I think he may be considered a pew warmer) My mind goes to the other seven. What happened with them? I often wonder if they lost the mina in bad investments, or consumed the money on them selves? Either way they are never mentioned again. Some would say they are part of those who hated the nobleman. If that is the case they must have been faithful at some time for the nobleman to give them the money in the first place. If that is the case then they would represent the believers who have walked away from God. In any case, the majority are blotted out and never heard of again. I don’t know the exact figure but it seems to me that I heard only 20-30% of Christians are faithful in tithing. If that is correct, it would fall inline with the parable. Personally, I believe the other seven wasted what was entrusted to them. As such you will not find them recorded in the book of life. They will never be heard from again, and the ones who hated the nobleman are those involved in false religions .
I know this is an old post, and you may not pay attention to it anymore, but if you do, I would be interested in your take!
Kevin Mercadante says
Hi David – I completely agree with your interpretation. If we view it strictly as how we manage our money we miss so much. Jesus’s parables are usually broader in meaning than we generally assume. I agree that the numbers may reflect levels of belief, much like the parable on the seed falling on the different types of soil. Some would be faithful and believe, and grow in their faith and mission (the first two), some would be half-hearted and fall way (the third), and others would never follow (the other seven). This is also consistent with what Jesus spoke of in Mt. 7:13-14 when he said ““Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Many will hear the word, but only a few will commit. Most will simply fall away. It’s a consistent theme, and makes me realize even more that faith is truly a miracle from God.
I think more about a nomadic life, life our aboriginzl first nations,- before the europeans; without money. Then we can examine what we are working for; a life with and for God,- or storing up; securing for oneself. Storing up, or securing without him, mostly because we would be scared to ask and depend on him if we don’t know him, we can’t trust him. but if we know him,we can’t help to obey him, as Jesus mentioned : if you live me, you can’t help but obey me.
Where your treasure is, there too is your heart.
Mary Maes says
Thank you Kevin. I get confused by the parables. I am reading the Bible in one year for only the second time in my life, and I get tripped up by the parables. I don’t just leave that chapter, however; I stop and try to figure out what the message truly is meant to be. I read countless explanations and yours is a great resource. Thanks again.
walter Gerald Pritzlaff says
Cup half empty/Cup half full…If we see ourselves and our life situation as lacking we simply will not be able to produce any good thing. If we look at ourselves and our situation in an “attitude of gratitude” we will be able to build on what we recognize that we do have. It’s a matter of attitude towards God and what we have. We all have some talent(‘s) we can use to advance the kingdom of God and even general “goodness” in our environment. To those who can see the positives in a situation God gives the ability to create even more positive situations and environments…to those who see themselves as “victims” of a cruel and unforgiving God, we have no base on which to build. Life itself is a precious gift.