Matthew 25:15

ESV To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
NIV To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
NASB To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
CSB To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent, depending on each one's ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately
NLT He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last — dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
KJV 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.

What does Matthew 25:15 mean?

Jesus is telling another story about how His followers should live as they await His return. His other parables have emphasized being prepared as a lifestyle (Matthew 24:50; 25:13). The idea is that believers should never become complacent or assume that Jesus' return is a distant event. This new parable will emphasize the need to also make the most of our time, for His sake, while we wait.

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 (Luke 12:42–48).
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