17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made[i] two more talents.[j]
18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.
20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing[k] five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’
21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things,[l] I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’[m]
22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’
23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man,[n] reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’
26But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
[a] “For it is as if…” (hōsper gar) The “it” is not in the Greek, but is assumed. But what does it refer to? “It is as though a man….” This doesn’t fit well as an introduction. The use of gar, which is kind of a placeholder, meaning “therefore,” or “because,” gives the sense that this is a continuation of the previous teaching, as in, “that about which I was referring before, is as if…” But the story that follows doesn’t quite read as though that is the case. John Nolland (The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Gospel of Matthew [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005], p. 1014) believes that this introductory phrase was intended for the previous parable about the bridesmaids. David Harrington (Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Matthew: Vol. 1 [Collegeville, Minn: The Liturgical Press, 1991], p. 352) suggests that Matthew intended the introduction to the chapter (“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this...”) to encompass both the parable of the maidens and this parable. That is, of course, assuming that Jesus intended this parable to be about the Kingdom/realm, which both (and others) also believe, but that is not totally clear to me that that is the case.
[b] “Slaves” (doúlos; gen. doúlou, masc. noun.). Historically translated “servant,” and more recently “slave,” is actually somewhere in the middle. Not the beaten down image we have of slaves, but not free to find employment elsewhere either. “Generally one serving, bound to serve, in bondage” (Complete Word Study Dictionary)
[c] “Entrusted” (παραδίδωμι, paradidomi, vb.,aor.) “‘Entrusted’ - give, deliver to. May be stretched to ‘entrust’ although this is reading into the parable. ‘Put them in charge of.”‘ TEV” (Pumpkin). “To hand over to or to convey something to someone, particularly a right or an authority—’to give over, to hand over.’ ὅτι ἐμοὶ παραδέδοται καὶ ᾧ ἐὰν θέλω δίδωμι αὐτήν ’because this has been handed over to me and I give it to whomever I wish’ Lk 4:6“ (Louw-Nida).
[d] “Property” (ὑπάρχοντα, hupárchonta; pres. part. neut. pl. of hupárchō, ὑπάρχω [to exist]). Property, but more generally, “Things which constitute someone’s possessions, goods.” Translating it here as “property” leads one to think in terms of land or buildings, while in the parable it means it as something of value that can be traded or invested, “Talents.” Noland suggests “something like ‘[business] capital’” (John Nolland, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Gospel of Matthew [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005], p. 1014).
[e] “Talents” (talanton, τάλαντον, noun neuter from tláō [n.f.]). To bear, “talent,” a weight, a unit of measurement. Five thousand gold coins”, TEV. In New Testament times a talent was a unit of exchange which varied in its value. The word can be used of money or silver or a weight of between 26 and 36 kilos of copper, silver or gold. So, it is a variable amount of money. We tend to think of a talent as a skill, but we draw this notion from the parable, not the meaning at the time.”
[f] “His (own) ability” (ἰδίαν δύναμιν, idian dunamin). “Lit., his own or peculiar capacity for business. For some reason, idian, “own,” is seldom translated. The KJV has “His several ability.”
[g] The NRSV leaves out εὐθέως, immediately.
[h] “Traded” (ἐργάζομαι, ergázomai; imperf. ). “To trade, to make gains by trading, ‘do business’” (Thayer). Nolland suggests, “He worked with them (the talents)” meaning he actually put in some effort. “The slave and not just the money is on the job” (p. 1015).
[i] “Made” (κερδαίνω, kerdainō, vb.). To make or gain or earn by way of interest. To increase wealth by investments usually in land. Notice that both the five and ten talent people made money through interest. But the first did it through trading in goods and the second just made it, presumably by collecting interest off of investments.
[j] “Though the second slave has less capital to work with, he makes the same percentage gain” (Nolland, p. 1015).
[k] “Came forward, bringing…” It has the sense of being a ceremonial presentation. Luke’s version says “your “Minas have earned ten minas.” Matt here says, “I have made five more talents.” Real pride in his work.
[l] See above on the value of a Talent. Only an extremely rich person could call this amount “little”
[m] “Enter into the joy of your master” (tēn charin tou kuriou sou). “The word chara or joy may refer to the feast on the master’s return. So also in Matt. 25:23” (Archibald Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament).
[n] “Harsh” (sklērós, σκληρός, adj., nom., masc.). A Harsh, stern, and unyielding person. Luke’s version of this parable has austere (austerōs), someone who might be inclined to impose an “austerity program” on indebted property owners. “Pertaining to being hard and demanding in one’s behavior—’hard, severe, demanding.’ ἔγνων σε ὅτι σκληρὸς εἶ ἄνθρωπος, θερίζων ὅπου οὐκ ἔσπειρας. (Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible societies, 1996, c1989), 1:756.). “to harden, dry up. Dried up, dry, hard, stiff; of the voice or sounds as hoarse or harsh; of things as hard, tough, and not soft. In the pl., tá sklērá, the hard things, stands in contrast to tá malaká (G3120), the soft things, or with a neg. connotation, the effeminate (1Co_6:9). Also from skéllō (n.f.): skoliós (G4646), crooked, warped. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, (AMG International, Inc.: Chattanooga, TN: 1992, Rev. ed., 1993).