The Bible

Matthew 25:14-30 : The Parable of the Talents

Study the Inner Meaning

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

15 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.

16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

21 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.

22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, 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.

24 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:

25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2449, 2967, 4175, 4314, 4424, 4661, 5291, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 17, 164, 413, 435, 463, 606, 676, ...

Divine Providence 17, 210, 227

Doctrine of Life 2

Heaven and Hell 349, 575

True Christian Religion 413, 462, 483, 527

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 21

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 112, 193, 242, 413, 526, 556, 612, ...

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 33

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

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Word/Phrase Explanations

"Man" is a tricky word to discuss, because the Hebrew of the Old Testament uses six different words that are generally translated as "man," with...

Generally in the Bible a "country" means a political subdivision ruled by a king, or sometimes a tribe with a territory ruled by a king...

To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

“Servant” literally means “a person who serves another,"" and its meaning is similar in reference to the spiritual meaninngs of the Bible. “Servant” literally means...

The “goods” that people have in the Bible – their possessions – represent spiritual possessions, which are desires to be good and knowledge that helps...

A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

Five also signifies all things of one part.

'Talents' denote good and truth from the Lord received as remains.

The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

The word used for 'activity,' as in Genesis 47:6, in Hebrew also means 'strength' and 'virtue,' which, in the internal sense, means something that prevails,...

'To journey' signifies the institutes and order of life.

"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

'Money' relates to truth.

'Long' and thence to prolong, refer to good.

Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

'A well,' as in Numbers 21:17-18, signifies the Word of the ancient church. 'A well,' or 'pit,' as in Luke 14:5, signifies falsity and the...

It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

In the modern world, we’re used to thinking of “faith” as primarily an emotional state. When Swedenborg talks about “faith” – which his books do...

Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

'A ruler' or 'governor' signifies goods of the church, and in the opposite sense, falsities.

Intellectual things – ideas, knowledge, facts, even insight and understanding – are more separate and free-standing than emotional things, and it’s easier to imagine numbering...

All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

'Reaping' or 'harvest time' denotes the reception of truth in good.

Fear of the unknown and fear of change are both common ideas, and together cover a broad spectrum of the fears we tend to have...

Swedenborg several times associates the “wicked” with “malevolence,” defines “malevolence” as “destroying good, interior and exterior,” and says that the wicked do this by disowning...

'To reap' signifies executing judgment. 'Reaping' denotes the reception of truth in good.

To gather, as in Genesis 6:21, refers to those things which are in the memory of man, where they are gathered. It also implies that...

'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

'An usurer,' as in Exodus 22:25, denotes someone who does good for the sake of gain.

Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

Most places in Swedenborg identify “ten” as representing “all,” or in some cases “many” or “much.” The Ten Commandments represent all the guidance we get...

Every one
The phrase “Every one,” where it occurs in Genesis 20:7, signifies every thing or all things.

Outer darkness
'Outer darkness,' as in Matthew 8:12, denotes the more dreadful falsities which immerse the people who are in the church, because these people darken the...

"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" is a state where truth is lacking.

'Weeping' represents both sorrow and love.

'Teeth' signify the outer edges of the life of the natural self, or the sensory level. This has two kinds, the will, and the understanding....

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library by following this link.

 Dramatize the Parable of Talents
Activity | Ages 4 - 6

 For Reflection: Becoming a Good and Faithful Servant
How can we work on becoming good and faithful servants of the Lord?
Activity | Ages over 15

 Friendships: Men and Women
Getting to know a variety of men or women helps us learn about the opposite sex and ultimately helps us learn what qualities we care about and will want in the person we marry.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 How to Love One Another
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Idealism and Realism in Love Truly Conjugial
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 I Was Hungry - Level A
A complete lesson on Feeding the 5000 with scripted discussion and multiple activities to choose from. Activities include a play, a fingerprint project, a coloring picture and a memory verse. Sample lesson from the Youth Journey Program Hands of Love Inherit the Kingdom, Level A, ages 3-6.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 I Was Hungry - Level B
A complete lesson on Feeding the 5000 with scripted discussion and multiple activities to choose from. Activities include a play, a folding paper project, a coloring picture and a memory verse. Sample lesson from the Youth Journey Program Hands of Love Inherit the Kingdom, Level B, ages 7-10.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 I Was Hungry - Level C
A complete lesson on Feeding the 5000 with scripted discussion and multiple activities to choose from. Activities include a video "Helping Others Helps God" to watch and discuss, an activity on three Biblical stories that involve food, and a "Read, Reflect, Respond" card to take home. Sample lesson from the Youth Journey Program Hands of Love Inherit the Kingdom, Level C, ages 11-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Memory Verse: Believe in Me
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Parable of the Talents
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Our Daily Work
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Overview of Five Parables of Heaven Levels A, B, C Ages 3-14
Overview of the Youth Journey Program Five Parables of Heaven featuring the parables of the Sower, Pearl of Great Price, Wise and Foolish Virgins, Workers in the Vineyard and The Great Supper. For ages 3-14, Levels A, B and C.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Overview of Hands of Love Levels A B C for ages 3-14
Overview of the Youth Journey Program Hands of Love Inherit the Kingdom, Levels A, B and C, for ages 3-14 for Sunday schools, camps, classrooms and families.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Prayers for Children: The Lord's Supper
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Prayers for Teens: Using Our Talents
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Quotes: Using Our Talents
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Serving the Lord Bookmark
Meditate on a verse from the Word and let it inspire you in a spiritual task. Cut out the color picture bookmark to keep or share.
Activity | Ages over 15

 The Church
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Life of Charity Game
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 The Parable of the Talents
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Parable of the Talents
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Parable of the Talents
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Responsibility of the Lord's Servants
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Ten Virgins
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Widow Feeds Elijah - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: make a model of the Lord's bounty (mobius strip), put others first to win cooperative games, scripted story discussion, and a meditation and task on a verse from the Word.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 The Widow Feeds Elijah - Level D
Complete lesson with activity choices: a look at mistakes and habits, discussion about heaven and hell, scripted story discussion, and a meditation and task on a verse from the Word.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 15 - 17

 Trying to Entomb the Lord
This story teaches us that the Lord Jesus, who came to earth and touched us with His great love and wisdom, is more than just a man. He is our God, and He has all power. 
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Using Our Gifts from the Lord
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Using Our Talents
Use these 5 decorative "talents" to picture or write about ways you can use the abilities the Lord has given you.
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Using Our Talents
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 What Does the Parable of the Talents Mean?
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Works of Charity
Worship Talk | Ages over 18


Freedom to Choose God

By Rev. William Woofenden

For he is "as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods." Matthew 25:14

Additional readings: Zechariah 14, Matthew 25:14–30, Psalm 9, Psalm 10

The man spoken of in our text is the Lord. Our Heavenly Father in His dealings with us keeps Himself in a certain sense wholly out of our sight. With our natural eyes we never see Him. With our natural ears we never hear His voice. In consequence of this apparent removal of Himself many persons have denied that there is a God. Others, seeing that there must be some creative power and force back of nature, have thought of Him as this force but have denied His existence as a personal Being.

Various names have been given to the different kinds of belief about God. Those who identified God with nature have been called pantheists. Those who believe that nothing can be known about God and the supernatural are called agnostics. The term materialist has been used to designate the man who does not want to know about anything above matter. And last and lowest in this dismal series stands positive and defiant atheism. But all these are alike characterized by unwillingness to accept a God who is not visible and tangible.

Our text teaches that no such external manifestation of Deity can be expected. It is according to the order of His providence that the Lord is like "a man traveling into a far country." Nor are we left in ignorance as to why this is so. The parable, of which our text is a part, goes on to say that the man called to him his servants and "to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to every man according to his several ability." He left them to make such use as they would of the gifts entrusted to them. After a while he returned, and had a reckoning with them, rewarding each according to the use he had made of his gift.

This parable reveals a universal principle, namely, that the law of human life is freedom of choice and that, being free to choose, man is justly accountable for his actions. Men's happiness or their misery is in their own hands. If God were continually in sight before our physical eyes, there would be no freedom. The Lord hides Himself from us for our own good, for to take away our freedom would deprive us of everything that is human. Nor could we by any means be formed into the image and likeness of our Creator. By virtue of our freedom we can honor those who are wiser and better than we and worship the Lord, who is above all. Shunning evil and doing good because we so choose, we can conjoin ourselves to the Lord.

So the Lord makes Himself outwardly invisible. But He does not leave us without the means of learning and knowing about Him. He has given us His Word in which we can learn what is right and what is wrong. In His Word He is present with us to enlighten us and to give us power to overcome. And if our eyes are open, we can see the countless objects of nature as signs that the Lord cares for us. We did not create the sun, moon, and stars, or any of the things of this world, nor did they spring into spontaneous existence. So, even though we cannot see the Lord, we have innumerable tokens of His presence and of His ability to provide for all our needs.

It seems strange that those who doubt or deny the existence of God should complain that He does not reveal Himself to our physical senses. They should not expect that He who created and sustains the universe, whom the "heaven of heavens cannot contain," could be brought down to the perception of the gross physical senses so that they could see Him as they see a stone or a clod. If they could so see Him, they would have every reason to doubt His infinite power and greatness. Surely the fact that they cannot so see Him is the very worst reason that could be given for their lack of faith.

The truth is that the senses are not man's guides into knowledge. It is very little that they reveal to him—only a few impressions about his body and about the external world in which he lives. In the exercise of our senses something more than the body is implied. They make their report to the mind which sits within and above them. And when we speak of the mind, we speak of something that the eye has never seen nor the hand touched. We pass beyond material bounds even here into that region which is called spiritual; we come into an altogether different world, the world of spirit. And if our spiritual eyes were opened, we should become cognizant of another and greater world of which we are members.

In fact we are endowed with faculties adapted to our future as well as to our present existence. We are able to see and understand things which lie beyond the compass of the physical senses or of this earthly life. This does not mean that we can discover these things by our unaided reason. But when they are made known to us through revelation, there is something within us that can recognize and accept them.

There is a reason for much of the doubt in the world today. Traditions of men have been substituted for the Word of God. Irrational interpretations have been made by the church, interpretations that can by no means be reconciled nor even understood. But new truth has been revealed in the opening of the Scriptures; so the way is now opened to a clear understanding of spiritual things.

Man is primarily a spiritual being and is endowed with spiritual faculties by which he is able to acknowledge and receive spiritual truth when it is intelligibly presented to him. But these faculties have to be developed. He is not brought into them without effort on his part. There is one condition that must be fulfilled if we are to have our spiritual sight opened. We must realize our weakness and need of help. Those who are satisfied with themselves, who are proud of their own attainments, unconscious of any need of help from one mightier than they, are at heart materialists or skeptics.

Externally the Lord is and always will be invisible to us. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). So far as our spiritual nature is opened and developed, so far as we become regenerate, the Lord reveals Himself to us. We come to know and to depend upon His presence with us, when we pray to Him we do not seem to speak to empty air. We feel that He is with us, hears us, and can help us, and the reality of His presence grows more vivid as we advance in the way of His commandments—the way of eternal life.

But did not the Lord once dwell visibly upon the earth? Once indeed, as never before or since, He was present in the form of a man, as God incarnate, Jesus Christ. But He did not appear in His glory. His Deity was wonderfully and deeply veiled. He so accommodated Himself to our finiteness that no one's freedom was taken away. He came in such a humble guise that men did. not know Him. Those alone recognized Him who were interiorly attracted to Him by the spirit of His life and teachings. Others despised and rejected Him. Some even crucified Him.

And yet by this manifestation, so humble and lowly, so carefully guarded against all danger of compelling men against their wills to believe and obey Him, the infinite Father revealed Himself anew.

Men had lost all true knowledge of God. Spiritual darkness had come upon the earth. The Word had become falsified through the traditions of men. By means of His Advent He was again reinstated in the hearts and minds of all who freely loved Him and kept His precepts. From such His glory was not hidden. They saw His human nature filled more and more with the indwelling life of the Father until in the Ascension it became itself Divine and He could truly say, "All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18).

Today there are those who do not believe this. For He still is, as He always really has been, outwardly invisible. He is still like a man traveling into a far country. He conceals Himself naturally that we may know Him spiritually, and that by means of such knowledge we may, in the fullness of freedom and rationality, make that use of our talents which will enable us to "enter into the joy of our Lord."