Talent requires investment

Have you wondered about the value of the talent in the parable?  I went back to the text and http://www.blueletterbible.org to dig a little deeper.  In the original Greek, the word is τάλαντον or, using letters we recognize, tálanton.  Strong’s Definitions lists the meaning as “neuter of a presumed derivative of the orignal form of tlao; a balance (as supporting weights), i.e. (by implication) a certain weight (and thence a coin or rather sum of money).”   Notice that the word is a derivative of tlaoTlao according to Strong’s, means “to bear or carry” both literally and figuratively.

The parable gives no indication what kind of talent was given.  But there is no argument or lack of clarity here in one aspect: each talent given to the servants was a weight; each had a heaviness. Thayer’s indicates that one silver talent is estimated to have weighed 100 pounds, a gold talent as 200 pounds.  Whatever this talent weighed, the man who received 2 talents was bearing twice the weight as the servant with one talent.  The man who received 5, bore 5 times the weight.

Just receiving the talents, placed a burden, a load on the receiver.

So that you won’t think I’m making more of this than the passage merits, look at the verbs used to describe the actions taken by the 5-talent recipient.  Verse 16 says the 5-talent servant “went” and “traded” and “gained 5 more.”

On a cursory review of the story, it looks like the one talent-servant begins in the same manner, but a closer look at the original wording by using the lexicon reveals that the word went in verse 16 where the parable is por-yoo’-om-ahee (πορεύομαι) which means to traverse, travel, journey, walk and implies to lead.  In contrast, the one-talent servant ‘s action verb here is aperchomai’ (ἀπέρχομαι apérchomai, ap-erkh’-om-ahee) which means  to go off aside or behind (i.e. follow), literally or figuratively: it implies to back out.

The word, traded is from the word ἐργάζομαι er-gad’-zom-ahee; to toil (as a task, occupation, etc.), (by implication) effect, be engaged in or with, etc.:—commit, do, labor for, minister about, trade (by), work.  The 5-talent servant worked, he labored.  The next verse says that the two-talent servant did “in the same manner” and gained 2 more.

While the first two moved ahead–traveling, leading and worked–doing labor, the third went aside/backed out, and literally dug a hole to hide the talent.

Direction matters–even, and especially, when the load is heavy and the stakes are high.

Don’t let fear send you off in the wrong direction.  Don’t let insecurity and doubt lure you into burying the talent God has given.

The stakes are just too high!  (Discover just how high in the next post.)


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