The Parable of the Loaned Money

by Van Richards , Christian Examiner Contributor |

"To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away." (Matthew 25:29-30, NLT)

Have you ever wondered what the Parable of the Loaned Money (Matthew 25:14-30, NLT) from the Bible is trying to teach? Some translations of this passage refer to it as the Parable of the Talents (TLV), The Parable of the Bags of Gold (NIV) or The Story about Investment (MSG). There are hundreds of versions of the Bible, and the version of the Bible that you read can influence the meaning that you obtain from Bible scripture. The New Living Translations is used here for its study qualities. But regardless of which version of the Bible you read, the Parable of the Loaned Money can be one of the most confusing passages in the Bible. Some people think it is about how to handle money, while others think there is a deeper meaning.

Here is a brief summary of the New Living Translation version of this parable. Jesus tells the story of a master that had three servants. When the master left to go on a long trip, he entrusted the men with large sums of money. To the first man, the master gave five bags of silver. The second man was given two bags of silver, and the third man received one bag of silver. After some time, the master came back and asked for an accounting of the money that he had entrusted to the men. The first servant had doubled the money to return to his master, the second servant had doubled the silver that he returned to his master, and the last servant was only able to return the original amount, one bag of silver.

The master was very pleased with the first two men and became very angry with the man that only returned the original amount of silver. The master called the third man wicked and lazy; then he ordered him to be thrown out into the darkness. For the full parable, please read Matthew 25:14-30 in whatever version you prefer.

At this point, some people who read the Message version of the Bible read this parable and think the moral of the story is that you should not fear taking investment risk. The Message version of the story is analogous to an investor giving his money to three investment managers. In this view, people should not be afraid to invest their money because if there is no risk, there is no gain—while making no profitis terrible.

If that is your thought, I would like to ask you to look at The Parable of the Loaned Money from a different perspective. Imagine living two-thousand years ago when Jesus first told this parable. There were no stock markets, no investment managers—not any modern market like those of today.

The New Living Translation version of the Parable of the Loaned Money uses money only as a metaphor for a person's life. A careful review of the story shows that there are five lessons that Jesus is trying to teach us through this parable.

  1. The first lesson from this parable is that our life is a gift from God. It is given to us, and one day that life will be recalled.
  2. The second lesson that Jesus is trying to teach us through this story is that we all are given different abilities and skills. It doesn't matter if you have five times the skill of someone else, two times the ability of another, or if you are an average everyday person. God desires that we make the most of what He has given to us.
  3. The third lesson we should learn is that God does not want us to exist only to enrich ourselves. Part of God's plan for us is to share our abilities with others.
  4. The fourth lesson that the parable teaches us is that at some point in time we will be held accountable for our lives.
  5. And lastly, this story is telling us that the Master, Jesus, will return.

Sometimes it is easy to look at short sayings or individual lines of scripture and try to make them fit into our current life. However, if you want to gather the true meaning of Biblical scripture, try to understand when it was written, where it took place, who is in the story and how does the saying or individual line of scripture fit into the full passage. Then you can apply it to your life today.

I believe that God wants us to do well with our finances. However, I do not believe The Parable of the Loaned Money is about money, but rather I believe God is more concerned about how we are spending the life that he has entrusted to each of us. This is the main point of The Parable of the Loaned Money.

Have a good and blessed week,

Van Richards

– Van Richards is a Christian financial advisor as well as the founder of and Van draws from his 30 years as a financial advisor to write about financial issues from a Christian perspective. You can contact him at