What is it about?

The parable of the Talents has long been understood as a call to faithfulness in Christian service. I have argued that while the parable does indeed call for faithfulness, it also gives a very specific focus to that faithfulness. Matthew's Jesus told the parable to exhort his disciples to faithfulness in carrying out the worldwide expansion of the kingdom of God, the responsibility these disciples would be entrusted with by their master in the post-Easter period. The parable also anticipates the disciples carrying out this task in a hostile social context and warns against giving way to fear.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

My reading is faithful to Matthew's literary presentation of the parable, taking account of the parable's immediate literary context and also wider Matthean narrative concerns and theology. At the same time, my reading incorporates the findings of recent socio-historical and cultural research of relevance to the parable, showing that this research does not need to bring into question Matthew's literary intent (with the parable), but can actually enrich our understanding of Matthew's literary aims.


Writing this paper I gained satisfaction from taking the well argued elements of all three major lines of interpretation of this parable, and showing how they can contribute to a single coherent reading that honours Matthew's literary intent. I also enjoyed using metaphor theory to resolve some long standing disagreements concerning aspects of this parable.

Phillip Porter
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14–30), Novum Testamentum, March 2021, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15685365-12341700.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page