What is the difference between the parable of the talents and the pounds?

In Matthew 25, the Lord says to the faithful servants, “Well done!” but in Luke 19, only “Well!” There must be a difference intended. What is it?

The difference is only in the translation, for it is the same word in the Greek in either case—the commendatory adverb, “EU,” “Well !“ Perhaps, “It is well,” would do in both places. This question suggests another which is very interesting, but not so easily answered.

What is the difference between the two parables?

Nothing but the most superficial reading can fail to note that a wide difference exists. In Matthew 25, there are three servants; in Luke, ten. In Matthew the sums entrusted vary, five talents, two and one; in Luke each servant receives the same, one pound or mina. In Matthew the faithful servants gain proportionately to the talents received, the one who had received five doubles it, and so with the recipient of two. In Luke the sums gained vary from ten to one.

In the two Gospels, the unfaithful servant received different treatment; in Matthew he is cast into “outer darkness,” in other words, he is a lost soul; in Luke all reward is withheld and his pound taken from him and given to him that had gained ten.

There is a fourth and very important difference, which throw light on the interpretation of the parables; in Matthew there are only two classes—the faithful and unfaithful servants; in Luke there is a third and distinct class—the citizens who hated their Lord, and were dealt with in condign judgment at His coming. This indicates, I believe, the true key to the parables. In Matthew, the three servants include profession, in fact all men, as we might say—three divisions of humanity, the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God. They have all received some talent from God, for which they must give account to Him. A man does not escape responsibility by refusing it.

Each man, godly and ungodly alike, will be held responsible for his talents, his faculties of mind, education, privileges, opportunities; and while no one will be saved by these things, there will be a reward for having by grace used them for God. On the other hand, there will be judgment on those “who have not,” corresponding to the rebellious citizens of Luke. In the case of the ten servants, they all start with the same amount—a pound. What exactly this corresponds to is uncertain, perhaps the life which each one has to live and make the most of for God. They will be rewarded in proportion to their faithfulness. The unfaithful one is not consigned to the place of punishment, but he is so far deprived of the opportunity of future service, from which it seems evident that the Lord’s servants are qualifying in this world for their service in the next.

W.H.