It’s interesting that this parable comes on the heels of the 10 virgins whereby Jesus admonishes us to be ready and be filled (Matt 25:1-13). Then He tells of the talents and how each of three guys is given a certain number of talents (Matt 25:15-30).
A talent was a unit of weight and was typically used in defining a weight of precious metal for currency. IE: a Greek talent was about 82lbs, and 82lbs of silver is different in value than 82lbs of gold.
That being said talent is synonymous with a unit of measure. Which is interesting given the context of the previous parable.
In Rom 12:1-3, Paul tells them to present their bodies as living sacrifices, denying themselves, that this was their spiritual worship. He goes on to warn them to not be conformed (outwardly shaped) by the world but instead to be transformed (inwardly changed) by the renewing of their mind. He then tells them not to think of themselves more highly than they ought but to examine themselves closely, each according to the measure of faith given to them (Rom 12:3).
What I want to draw out here is that faith is given in measure to each man, just as the talents were given to each man in different measure in Jesus parable.
According to Galatians 5:22 faith is a fruit or product of the Spirit. And according to Ephesians 1:13-14 we receive the Spirit when we believe and the Spirit is God’s deposit on our inheritance. But also in Gal 6, Paul warns that we’re to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. He warns us because that which we feed grows, either the Spirit and fruit thereof or the flesh and it’s fruit. Last little tidbit is found in Ephesians 2:8-9: for by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. The key to this passage is the “it is the gift”and to what does it refer.
It seems clear to me that the gift to which it’s referring is faith. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit is given by God’s grace in measure to each believer (Eph 4:7). We are responsible to walk in the Spirit to cultivate this faith. We are not to walk as the world walks, in the flesh (Rom 12:1, Eph 4:17). But we are to be renewed in the Spirit of our mind (Rom 12:2, Eph 4:23). We are told not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30) which walking in the flesh does because the flesh and the Spirit are at war with one another (Rom 7, Gal 6).
So if faith through the Spirit is given as a gift for our use (like the talents) then we are responsible for what we do with it according to Jesus parable. We are either walking in the Spirit and growing in faith or we take that which we were gifted and buried it showing that we hold our inheritance in contempt. It’s interesting that this interpretation seems to tie together both parables admonishing us to be ready, to be filled, to continue pressing in deeper to Christ and thus as we abide in Him, He will produce fruit in us. It’s also worth noting that according to Rom 9:13 and Malachi 1:2-3, Jacob was loved, but Esau was hated. This seems to be because Jacob valued the inheritance whereas Esau held it in contempt and counted it of no value next to temporary earthly pleasure (a bowl of stew).
Could it be that Esau is the one servant who took his talent for granted and put no value on it? The one who buried it in the ground? Who hid his light under a bushel?
The Spirit of Christ is the gift paid for by Christ’s coming to earth in the flesh and dying. To count this as worthless is to show contempt for that which we’ve been given. And to sit on the faith produced by the Spirit. Without exercising it. Growing in it. To pursue the things of this world. Which we’ve been warned not to do. Is to count the blood of Christ a common thing (Heb 10:29). And not worthy of our pursuit.
Jesus finished up this parable stating that the servant with only a single talent ought to have at least invested it in the bank where at the very least it could have accumulated interest (Matt 25:27). I believe this is referring to the church. The very least we can do is to take that which we have been given and invest it in the church. Utilizing our God given abilities, resources and gifts to serve the body of Christ (Rom 12). Because each of us has been gifted uniquely to fill a void and serve a purpose in Christ’s body. To deny the church of this is to bury our talent, holding on to it selfishly only for ourselves. Thinking, only of ourselves. This is selfishness, which not coincidentally, is a work of the flesh (Gal 5:20) and comes about as a result of walking in the flesh and sowing to the flesh (Gal 6:8).
So the interpretation of parable is to be filled with the Spirit but also to grow in the fruit thereof according to the measure of that which we’ve been given. For there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit (Rom 8:1).