These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Matthew 25:14-30 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Verse by Verse Commentary
Matthew 25:14-30 – Parable of the Talents
What is this parable about? What is the connection to chapter 24?
In verse one Jesus says, “It will be like a man going on a journey.” What will be like a man going on journey?
What do the various symbols or people in the parable represent?
What is a talent?
Why does the master give different amounts instead of the same amount to each person?
Does God give the same abilities and responsibilities to us? Why not?
How should you react if you are given more? How should you react if you are given less?
What is the difference in perspectives between a steward and an owner?
Who did the new talents (bags of gold) that were earned belong to? What did the servant do with them upon the master’s return?
How did the master react to the two servants who did well?
What does it mean to “enter into the joy of your master.”
What kind of person does the lazy servant represent?
Do you think he is being honest in his reason for not working while the master was away? Why or why not?
What can you see in his response about his view of the master? Was this accurate? Why was he so negative?
If the master represents Jesus how can we understand his statement that “you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed.”
Is there any financial advice implied in this parable?
What does verse 29 mean?
Luke 19:22 – By your own words, I will judge you.
1 Corinthians 15:10 – God shows us grace and we labor for Him.
1 Timothy 6:18-19 – Instruct them to be rich in good works and thus store up treasure in heaven.
1 Corinthians 4:1-2 – We are stewards of the mystery of God.
1 Peter 4:10 – Use your gifts to serve others.
Genesis 3:1-7 – Satan tempts Eve to believe that God is harsh, uncaring, and strict (much like the lazy servant believed about the master in this parable.)
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. In this parable there are several characters and symbols which represent important truths to us:
-The master is Jesus.
-He goes on a long journey. This describes the time period in between His first and second coming.
-The servants are people. These people know about Him. They know the gospel and the truth from God’s Word. Though they are called servants it doesn’t mean they are all true believers. Every one of God’s created people’s should serve Him, but of course many do not. We see in this parable that some of the servants are true servants (real believers) and another are disobedient and rebellious (not a true believer.)
-The talents represent resources that God has placed in our care as His stewards. Just as the master expects his servants to use the resources for serving their master and increasing his estate or “kingdom” so God wants us to use the resources He has given to us for building His kingdom. Some of these resources include our spiritual gifts, our natural talents, our time, our money, our knowledge of the Word, etc.
2. A talent is 33 kg. In today’s gold prices that is worth about $1,328,000. Clearly the master was quite wealthy. The exact dollar value of the gold is not the key issue however. It is enough to know that He entrusted a large amount to his servants. We should also take note that he gave these resources to more than one servant. It is maybe a little bit strange in the business world to divide resources among three different stewards, but in this parable it reminds us that God wants to get more people involved in serving Him. This is not a one person task (like the pastor or missionary.) Every servant is to get involved serving the Lord in different ways.
3. He gives different amounts to different servants. While every believer has equal value in God’s sight (he does not favor the rich or the poor), this does not mean that He gives to every person the same. He gives different spiritual gifts, different natural abilities, different energy levels, different financial resources, different levels of knowledge about the Bible, different backgrounds, different opportunities to serve, and different responsibilities. God certainly has the ability to create a bunch of clones, but He didn’t do things that way. Should the last servant complain because he only has $1,328,000 million of gold? The very idea is absurd. Should the first servant with five talents brag and boast? No. It is a big responsibility for him and he should always remember that this is not his. He is steward. (Luke 17:10)
God is the giver of all good things (James 1:17.)
What is a resource or blessing that others have that maybe you do not?
What gift or resource has God blessed you with that maybe others do not have?
In light of this, how should you treat others around you?
Application: We should understand what our gifts and calling are and focus on those areas. It is not right to try to do everything ourselves in the church or family because we think we can do it best or because we don’t want to burden others. As part of a larger body, we should work together and encourage others to participate. Neither should we shirk back and become a pew sitter because we think we are not as gifted as others. God has blessed you with unique gifts that are different from the others around you and has specific tasks in mind for you to do.
4. The first two servants went to work at once. Even though the master may be gone for a long time, they did not wait around or waste time. Their diligence and initiative is a good example. Don’t wait to do tomorrow what you can do today.
5. After a long time – Jesus has also been a long time in returning. But just like the master would return without warning, so Jesus will return one day. The servants knew they would have to give an account when their master returned and we also know we will have to give an account to Jesus.
6. The first two servants have something to show for their time. They were faithful. It seems that they engaged in business or trading to increase their master’s wealth. In another vocation if the master were a farmer the servants would use the seed he left to them to plant and grow more crops and repeat the process until the farm and crops had increased many fold. Is this passage teaching us we should increase our money for when the Lord returns? If we are not to increase our money, then what does it mean to us to use the talents and get more wealth for the master?
As the servants were building up their master’s estate, we should build up our Master’s kingdom. It is not a material kingdom so it is not measured in terms of money or the size of your bank account. God’s kingdom is bigger when more people are in it (your friends, your relatives, your children, strangers you share with.) His kingdom is better when the people in it are more obedient, which includes us. Thus simply put, we build His kingdom when we share the gospel and we edify the saints and when we ourselves are sanctified.
Key application sharing: go around the table and ask each person to share one or more ways in which they can build God’s kingdom by edifying the saints.
7. The servants give what they made back to the master because it was from him and it was his. Application: Everything we have is from God. We must not try to keep it for ourselves.
8. The reward – The two good servants were not rewarded in a financial way. Rather they were allowed to share their master’s joy. He would give them even more opportunities to serve because they had done such a good job. In chapter 24 we learn of Jesus’ second coming. This would mark the end of the current age and the beginning of Jesus’ physical one thousand year reign on earth. The servants who were faithful would be allowed to enter into Jesus’ kingdom, which is the greatest reward possible. And if the talents (representing a huge amount of money) is a “few things” think what the heavenly kingdom will be like!
9. The lazy servant – He is supposed to use the resources to trade (to buy and sell and exchange) and increase profit for his master. But instead of working he buries the money. He is lazy and does zero work for the master while he is gone. The master expected that the resources would be used to increase his business, but they were wasted instead. Time is money and his money had been sitting there doing nothing for a long time.
Rather than be apologetic and confess his laziness, the servant blames the master for his own laziness. He accuses the master of being unfair and harsh and thus excuses his own behavior by rationalizing that he was afraid of the master.
The temptation to view God as being harsh and unfair goes all the way back to Satan’s conversation with Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-7). Here Satan introduces the idea that God was unjust and keeping them from obtaining something good and useful, which they would enjoy. And Eve falls for it when she adds to God’s one prohibition against eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil by saying “or touch it.”
Today you don’t need to look far to see people questioning God’s goodness and accusing Him of all sorts of terrible things.
The master is not necessarily agreeing with the servant’s assessment (arguing with him may not be productive). Instead he is merely using the servant’s own words as the basis for his judgment (Luke 19:22.) Even according to his own beliefs, he failed to do what he should have done. So he really has no excuse.
IF the master is harsh and unfair then that is all the more reason why the servants should faithfully serve his interests, knowing he would get very angry if they didn’t do their jobs.
The punishment: the lazy servant would be thrown outside the kingdom to the place of darkness (hell). In contrast to the amazing joy the good servants would receive, the lazy servant would only experience weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Application: Share one way you can use your gift or abilities to build up the body of Christ.
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