278 – Parable of the Talents – Outer Darkness

As with many Bible passages, the so-called Parable of the Talents has been misunderstood. Part of the problem is many modern-day believers have been taught to allegorize biblical text instead of applying literal interpretation methods. They too quickly assume that a given text must mean thus and thus, instead of taking the time to understand the textual and historical context of the passage. If we are studying the Bible carefully we should be able to uncover the truth the author is attempting to communicate, instead of deciding what we think it means. 

The parable is recorded for us in Matthew 25:14-30. Let’s consider the first verse.

Matthew 25:14 (NKJV)

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.

You can’t see it the way I’ve quoted it above, but if you were looking at your Bible it probably has “the kingdom of heaven is” in italics. Or it may be missing altogether. This is because those words are absent in the original Greek. The Greek actually reads, “For like a man traveling…”.

The translators put those words in to supposedly “clarify” that this is indeed talking about the “kingdom of heaven”. Frankly, I wish they would have left the phrase out and let the text speak to us naturally. It isn’t hard to look back to verse one of Matthew twenty-five and read down to verse fourteen to realize it’s all still connected. Look at verse one. 

Matthew 25:1 (NKJV)

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

In this verse “the kingdom of heaven shall be likened” is actually in the original Greek. I make the point not because I want to split hairs, but rather because I believe it is important to understand that the parable of the talents is more information that began at the top of the chapter. 

Look at Matthew 25:14 again. The “man”, clearly typifying Jesus, is about to go on a long trip. Before He goes He, “called His own servants…”. 

This phrase is critical to our understanding of this passage. Nowhere in Scripture is an unbeliever called a servant of God. It is unreasonable to assume that the man with the one talent is an unbeliever and is therefore denied entrance into heaven, referred to here as “cast into outer darkness”.

Notice that the point of the parable of the ten virgins is given in verse thirteen.

Matthew 25:13 (NKJV)

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

“Watch, therefore” or in modern vernacular, be ready!

There is no mention of the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” at the end of that parable.

If we look towards the end of the talents narrative we can find the intended meaning. 

Matthew 25:29-30 (NKJV)

29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away

30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Notice that Jesus does not identify the one talent man as not a servant after all, but rather as an “unprofitable” one.

What about the phrase “…cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness”? That obviously means hell, doesn’t it? Actually, “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is never mentioned in connection with hell. 

This text is pretty clearly talking about the one-thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth, the Kingdom of Heaven. There will be those believers who did nothing with what God gave them. They will “suffer loss” at the judgment seat of Christ. 

In Jewish history, professional mourners were hired to weep and wail and gnash their teeth to demonstrate intense grief due to loss when a family member died.

Being cast into outer darkness or not being allowed to reign with Christ during His millennial kingdom will cause intense grief worthy of weeping and gnashing of teeth. I can’t cover everything about this topic in devotional posts. To read an excellent discussion packed with much more detail see the book “What is the Outer Darkness?” by Zane C. Hodges and Robert N. Wilkin.

Remember, salvation is not tied to works.

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 

9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Salvation is a free gift. It is faith alone in Christ alone by which we are saved.

Once saved Jesus does intend we do good works as verse ten points out.

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