What does Matthew 25:24 mean?
ESV: He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,
NIV: Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
NASB: Now the one who had received the one talent also came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed.
CSB: "The man who had received one talent also approached and said, 'Master, I know you. You're a harsh man, reaping where you haven't sown and gathering where you haven't scattered seed.
NLT: Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.
KJV: Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
NKJV: “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.
Verse Commentary:
Thus far in Jesus' parable, a master has returned from a long journey to learn what his servants have done with money left with them to manage (Matthew 25:14–15). The first two servants have made their report. Each of them used the money to go into trading and have doubled their master's investment. He has called them good and faithful servants and promised them even greater responsibility, as well as entering his own personal joy. Though one brought back more than twice as much profit as the other, both are equally rewarded for making faithful use of their entrusted assets (Matthew 25:20–23).

The third servant makes his report, and it is much different. As the story has already revealed, this servant simply buried the money the master gave him (Matthew 25:18). He gives an explanation in this and the following verse. He tells the master, in essence, that he sees the master as someone who finds ways to take as his own things that are not his. This servant sees his master as harsh, uncompromising, and authoritarian.

Rather than acting in love, or diligence, the servant acted out of fear (Matthew 25:25). The master will not find his explanation convincing. The point of this parable is how God expects His people to use the "talents"—skills, money, assets, resources, abilities—which He has given them. Regardless of how much we've been given, we're expected to faithfully use those blessings in godly ways. We are not meant to bury them and do nothing.
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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