What does Matthew 25:21 mean?
ESV: His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
NIV: His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
NASB: His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter the joy of your master.’
CSB: "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master's joy.'
NLT: The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’
KJV: His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Verse Commentary:
A parable about a master and three trusted servants communicates to Jesus' servants how they should live while waiting for His return (Matthew 25:14–20). The master in the story left town after giving these three servants large sums of tradable cash. These are counted using the measure of "talents," which in the ancient world was an enormous weight of precious metals. A single talent might have been as much as a common laborer could earn in twenty years. Now the master has returned after a long time away and has come to these servants to settle accounts with them. He wants to see what they have done with the money he has left them.

The first servant has made his report. He used his master's five talents to earn another five talents. The master trusted the servant with great wealth, and the servant earned the equivalent wealth for his master.

Now the master responds. He calls the man a good and faithful servant and tells him "well done." He rewards him in two ways. First, he tells the servant that because he has been faithful over little, he will make the servant responsible for a great deal more. Second, he welcomes the servant to share in his own personal joy. In other words, the master welcomes the servant into closer connection to himself, managing more of his own estate and walking in joyful relationship with him.

Jesus is showing that those who use what He gives to them to increase what is His will also be rewarded with greater opportunity and joy when He returns.
Verse Context:
Matthew 25:14–30 compares the kingdom of heaven to three servants of a wealthy master. Each was given resources—the master's assets—and commanded to do business with them while he is away. Two of the servants apply the supplied funds and double the sums of money the master leaves with them. They are richly rewarded when he comes back. The third servant buries the money and does nothing with it out of supposed fear of the master. The master condemns his laziness and evil, casting him out. Jesus' servants must work diligently for Him while waiting for His return, not wasting the talents and resources which they have been given.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus uses two additional parables to illustrate a state of constant readiness for His return after He has gone. His followers should be working for Him while they wait. They must not be like the foolish young women who missed a wedding feast because they forgot oil for their lamps. They must be like the servants who doubled their harsh master's investments while He was away. Jesus concludes with a third descriptive passage, showing how He will judge between the righteous and evil when He returns as King.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 25 concludes the "Olivet Discourse:" Jesus' teaching to the disciples about future things as they sit on the Mount of Olives. This follows His dire predictions about the Temple and Jerusalem in chapter 24. He gives two more parables to emphasize that they must be prepared for His return. Finally, Jesus describes the moment of His return, after a time of tribulation, when He will judge all who live on earth at the beginning of His kingdom. This leads into Matthew's account of Jesus' Last Supper, betrayal, and arrest in chapter 26.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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