Prophecy on Mount Olivet
By Arlen L. Chitwood
For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.
And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.
And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.
But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. (Matthew 25:14-18)
So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas [KJV: pounds], and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ (Luke 19:13)
The Master of the house, prior to His departure, entrusted His goods to the servants within His house, leaving them with the command, “Do business till I come” [KJV: ‘Occupy till I come’]. The Master’s servants were to be busily involved in the use of that which had been entrusted to their care during the time of the Householder’s absence.
The Householder had previously purchased the servants, paying the price with His own blood at Calvary.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20)
They were “his own servants.” They belonged to Him alone, and they were to serve Him alone.
You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. (1 Corinthians 7:23)
The Master of the House, being perfectly just and righteous, is revealed to be a Householder who deals with His servants accordingly. There is no unfair treatment or any mistreatment of the servants. Everything is carried out within the framework of the Householder’s perfect justice and righteousness.
The Householder had entrusted a portion of His goods and a corresponding responsibility to each servant (with all His goods being distributed after a particular fashion among all His servants). Not a single servant was overlooked. And within this distribution and responsibility, there was one thing above all else that the Householder expected: faithfulness to assigned responsibility (1 Corinthians 4:2).
Then within the Master’s just and righteous dealings, faithfulness would result in commendation and reward, but unfaithfulness would result in rebuke and chastisement.
Upon the Householder’s return, each servant would be called to an accounting, with a view to faithfulness concerning that which had been delivered to that particular servant.
Any thought that the Householder may overlook anyone or certain things — whether in the realm of either faithfulness or unfaithfulness — would be completely out of character with His perfect justice and righteousness. A just distribution among and a corresponding expectation concerning all of His servants occurred prior to the Householder’s departure, and an equally just accounting and recompense would occur concerning all of His servants when the Householder returned.
If there were to be rewards for faithfulness, there must also be a corresponding chastisement for unfaithfulness, else injustice within the Householder’s dealings with His servants would occur.
A failure to deal with all of His household servants on exactly the same basis would be completely out of line with the Householder’s perfect justice and righteousness, as it related to all of His goods previously placed in their charge.
Ten Servants, Ten Pounds
“Ten” is the number of ordinal completion, pointing, in the parable of the pounds, to all of the Master’s servants and all of the Master’s goods. Prior to His departure into the far country, Christ called all of His servants and delivered unto them all of His business. Not a single servant was overlooked, and not a single item in His business was held back.
Numerical completeness is shown in the Olivet Discourse parables by the ten virgins taking their lamps and going forth to meet the Bridegroom. This parable is simply a continuation of the thought from the previous parable (the parable of the Householder and His servant), presenting a different facet of teaching surrounding the matter of a house being broken up. And the parable of the talents that follows the parable of the ten virgins is “just as” the parable of the ten virgins, presenting yet another facet of this same teaching.
The parable of the talents, on the other hand, is essentially the same as the parable of the pounds in Luke chapter nineteen. Both show an overall view of the same sequence of events, though each presents certain things after a slightly different fashion. All of these parables, along with companion parables such as the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:2-14), must be viewed together in order to see the complete picture.
Certain specific truths are emphasized in each, with no one parable being an island to itself (cf. 2 Peter 1:20). Specific truths from one parable will be in complete keeping, in every detail, with specific truths from another parable; and as one begins to correlate these truths, the complete subject will correspondingly begin to open to his understanding.
Parables comprise one truth placed alongside of a previous truth to help explain the previous truth. This is the thought derived from the meaning of the word itself. Our English word “parable” is a transliterated form of the compound Greek word parabole, which means “to cast alongside [para means ‘alongside,’ and bole means ‘to cast’].” Thus, a parable is simply one truth placed alongside of an existing truth to provide further light on the existing truth.
In this respect, viewing the four parables comprising the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse, the parable of the Householder and His servant (second parable) was placed alongside of previously explained truth concerning a house being broken up at the time of the Lord’s return (first parable) in order to provide further information concerning this parable. In turn, the parable of the ten virgins (third parable) was placed alongside of previously explained truth (second parable, reflecting back on the first parable) to provide even further information.
That is, the parable of the ten virgins was given to provide additional information that would help to further explain the parable of the Householder and His servant, along with the parable concerning a house being broken up. And the same can be said for the relationship existing between the parable of the talents (fourth parable) and that which precedes this parable (the third parable in particular but the first two parables as well).
With these things in mind, along with the thought of ten servants and ten pounds, we can move back into the Old Testament and view a corresponding type after a somewhat similar fashion. In Genesis 24:1ff the account is given concerning Abraham sending His eldest servant into Mesopotamia to procure a bride for his son, Isaac. The servant had in his possession “ten camels” laden with his master’s goods, and the Scripture specifically states that “all his master's goods were in his hand” (v. 10).
“Ten” shows ordinal completion (all the goods of his master, carried by the ten camels), as in the parable of the ten virgins or the parable of the pounds. And the manner in which the pounds (the Master’s goods) are to be used is shown in the type.
Abraham’s eldest servant, typifying the Holy Spirit in the world today, is the one who took his master’s goods and laid them out before the prospective bride. He, as in the antitype in John 16:14, 15, took the things of Abraham (which belonged to Isaac, for “to him has he [Abraham] given all that he has” [v. 36; cf. 25:5]) and showed/gave them to Rebekah.
The Holy Spirit is doing the same thing in the world today. He is taking the things of the Father, which have been given to the Son (the Son has been made “heir of all things” [Hebrews 1:2; cf. John 16:15]), and He is revealing them to Christians.
The Lord’s servants, during the time of His absence, are to function in complete dependence upon the power and work of the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s goods are seen in possession of His servants in the parable of the talents and the parable of the pounds, and these same goods are seen in possession of the Holy Spirit in the antitype of Genesis 24:10, 36, 53.
These goods are to be used by the Lord’s servants under the perfect leadership of the Holy Spirit. This truth can be seen by comparing the parable of the ten virgins with the parable of the talents. The faithful, productive servants in the parable of the talents are synonymous with the five wise virgins possessing the extra supply of Oil in the parable of the ten virgins.
That is to say, faithful, productive servants are those wise servants filled with the Holy Spirit, allowing the Spirit to govern and control their affairs.
Or, to state the matter after another fashion, faithfulness in allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in His fullness in one’s life will, through a use of the Lord’s goods, result in productivity, fruit-bearing.
Another thing that can be seen by viewing the parables in the Olivet Discourse within their correct framework and comparing things taught in these parables with things taught in Genesis chapter twenty-four is the correct Scriptural view concerning the resurrection and rapture of Christians at the conclusion of the present dispensation.
Some Bible students take the section preceding the parable of the Householder and His servant as referring to the rapture (ref. Chapter 10 in this book). However, aside from internal evidence within this section itself showing that this is not the case, the succeeding three parables reveal that something completely different is in view. That which is in view concerns Christians appearing before the Lord in judgment following the rapture, not Christians being removed from the earth at the time of the rapture.
All of the servants — the faithful and the unfaithful alike — are dealt with by the Lord together, at the same time. They are removed together (though such would have to be inferred if using the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse alone, for this section of Scripture does not deal with the rapture), and they are subsequently judged together.
The type in Genesis chapter twenty-four shows all the servants of the Lord being removed together at the same time. When Abraham’s servant departed Mesopotamia, Rebekah and her damsels rode upon the “ten” camels (v. 61; cf. v. 10). That is, they all went forth to meet Isaac at the same time, though not all would be manifested as the bride. Rebekah alone covered herself with a veil when Isaac approached. She clothed herself, anticipating meeting the bridegroom, undoubtedly pointing in the antitype to the wedding garment.
The wedding garment is comprised of “the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8, ASV) — works emanating out of faithfulness to one’s calling, producing an increase by and through the use of the talents or pounds — and this is the garment with which Christians must clothe themselves when they arrive in the Bridegroom’s presence, else they will appear naked (cf. Matthew 22:11-14; Revelation 3:17, 18).
The Master’s servants have been called and His goods have been committed to their trust. All of the Master’s servants participate in this calling, and all will one day be called forth to render an account.
In that coming day there will be both faithful and unfaithful servants who will be shown to have been either profitable or profitless servants. It will be at that time, not before, that a separation of the Lord’s servants will occur. It will be in that day that a full disclosure will be made among all the Lord’s servants concerning how each one handled that portion of the Lord’s goods committed to his trust.
A Distribution Among Servants
The main difference between the parable of the talents in Matthew and the parable of the pounds in Luke is the manner in which the Lord’s goods were distributed to His servants.
In Matthew, these goods are referred to as “talents”; and they are seen being distributed according to a man’s ability, with some servants receiving more than other servants. In the parable of the pounds though, each servant is seen receiving an identical amount simply because of his individual identity — a servant of the Lord. “Ability,” as in the parable of the talents, is not in view.
The talents and pounds have to do with monetary units of exchange. These are the Master’s goods, spoken of in a monetary sense (gold or silver coins, which could vary in size and worth, would be forms of either).
The Lord described His goods and the use of these goods after a fashion that man could readily understand. Though the Lord’s goods were not actually talents and pounds per se, the Lord, speaking to His disciples, used the quite familiar method of trading and trafficking within their own monetary system to illustrate how the goods He was leaving behind were to be used.
(The Greek words used in the parables of the talents and the pounds for that delivered by the Householder to His servants are talanton [translated “talent” in Matthew 25] and mna [translated “pound” in the KJV in Luke 19]. Both refer to the same thing — weighed amounts of a substance, usually coins, used as units of exchange.)
The parable of the pounds shows each servant possessing equal responsibility and worth in the Lord’s sight, though each servant does not exhibit the same degree of faithfulness and zeal during the Lord’s absence. Ten pounds are delivered to ten servants, with each servant receiving one pound (v. 13; cf. vv. 16-20); and no distinction is made in the servants until they appear before the Lord at the time of His return. Only then does a distinction and/or separation occur on the basis of productivity (emanating out of faithfulness) within the sphere of delegated responsibility.
The parable of the talents shows the same thing, though after a different fashion. Each servant receives a portion of the Lord’s goods based on his “ability,” with some servants receiving more than other servants; but there is still equal responsibility and worth among the servants in the Lord’s sight. This is evident by the Lord’s dealings with His servants at the time of His return. Servants receiving two different amounts preceding the Lord’s departure but exhibiting the same degree of faithfulness and zeal during His absence received identical commendations from the Lord when He returned.
One servant received five talents, another servant received two talents, and another servant received one talent (v. 15). The servant in possession of the five talents realized an increase of one hundred percent. He gained five additional talents because of his properly invested use of the initial five that the Lord had entrusted to his care (v. 20).
The servant in possession of the two talents did likewise. He also realized an increase of one hundred percent. He gained two additional talents by and through a properly invested use of the two talents that the Lord had entrusted to his care (v. 22). Each servant exhibited the same degree of faithfulness and zeal to the responsibility with which they had been entrusted, and each received the same commendation (vv. 21, 23), which undoubtedly would result in the same reward.
The servant in possession of the one talent though hid his lord’s money, realizing no increase, for there was no investment. Had this servant exhibited the same degree of faithfulness and zeal as the other two servants, bringing forth an increase of one hundred percent, one additional talent, he too would have heard his Lord say, “Well done, you good and faithful servant . . . .”
He would have received the same commendation (and undoubtedly the same reward) as the other two servants. But such was not his lot; and because of unfaithfulness to that with which he had been entrusted, he suffered rebuke and chastisement at the time he was called forth to give an accounting (vv. 24-30).
Rebuke and chastisement for unfaithfulness must be just as much a part of the Lord’s dealings with his servants as commendation and reward for faithfulness. If such were not the case, as previously shown, perfect justice and righteousness within the Lord’s dealings with His servants would not be satisfied.
Different degrees of reward are shown in the parable of the pounds, not in the parable of the talents. Rewards are based on works emanating out of faithfulness; and faithfulness, resulting in works, has to do with that portion of the Lord’s goods committed to one’s trust.
A servant is to exercise faithfulness within the scope of the talent/talents or the pound in his possession. That which is delivered to another is not his concern but rather the concern of the one to whom it was delivered, and conversely.
In the parable of the pounds, one servant, by and through his efforts, brought forth one thousand percent (v. 16); and another servant, at the same time, by and through his efforts, brought forth five hundred percent (v. 18). Accordingly, they were both commended, but they did not receive identical rewards (vv. 17, 19). Their rewards were commensurate with the return on their investment, resulting from their individual labors (faithfulness, resulting in the Lord doing a work through them).
Then, there is again, as in the parable of the talents, the case of the servant failing in his responsibility. And, as also in the parable of the talents, the Lord’s perfect justice and righteousness were satisfied through the unfaithful servant receiving an equally just recompense (vv. 20-26). He, as the faithful servants, received exactly what he deserved, nothing more, nothing less.
(In that future day, all actions of the Lord will be in perfect keeping with that which the expression “just recompense of reward” [KJV] means [cf. Hebrews 2:2; 10:35; 11:6, 26]. A just recompense is receiving exactly what an individual deserves, whether good or bad.
Note how the Greek word for reward [misthos], having to do with “payment” or “wages” for services rendered, is used in a just recompense respect in the New Testament. In Luke 6:23, 35 and 2 John 8 the word is used in a positive sense, in connection with faithfulness; but in 2 Peter 2:13, 15 and Jude 11 the word is used in a negative sense, in connection with unfaithfulness. And in all of the preceding verses, each person — whether having exhibited faithfulness or unfaithfulness — received “a just recompense of reward [as will be the case with every Christian].”)
The Commission to Servants
Two things are to be avoided during the time of the Lord’s absence:
1) Being unoccupied or idle.
2) Being busy in the wrong realm.
Prior to His departure, the Lord was very specific concerning the conduct of His servants between the time of His departure and the time of His return. He had distributed His goods to His servants and had left them with the specific command, “Do business till I come.”
The Lord’s servants were to be occupied with handling the Lord’s goods, His business, throughout the entire time of His absence. The master of the house had left those within His household in charge of matters pertaining to affairs in His house. He had distributed the household business among His servants in the house according to their individual ability to function in particular realms; and He had left each servant with a specific charge to faithfully carry out the particular household responsibility with which he had been entrusted.
1) His Own Servants
The parable of the talents provides the capstone for the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse. If any question still lingers in one’s mind concerning the identity of those in the field (24:40), those grinding at the mill (24:41), the servant who either remains faithful or becomes unfaithful (24:45-51), or the wise and foolish virgins (25:1-13), the opening verse of the concluding parable in this section will resolve the matter.
The Householder called “his own servants,” which leaves no room to question the identity of those in view throughout the entire section.
There is a double possessive in the structure of the Greek text in Matthew 25:14 (idios [meaning “one’s own”], preceded by the definite article), with the proper translation of this structure, as seen in the English text, “His own.”
Idios, “one’s own,” refers specifically to that which belongs to an individual in contrast to that which is not his, belonging to another. This is the word used twice in John 1:11, where the same double possessive structure appears in the Greek text each time:
He came to His own [idia, neuter plural, preceded by the article (‘His Own things’)], and His own [idioi, masculine plural, preceded by the article (‘His Own people’)] did not receive Him.
The things to which He came (the throne of David, His own throne, the domain over which He was to rule, etc.) were His own things, though not yet in His possession; and those who rejected Him were His own people, the Jewish people, constituting God’s firstborn son, His covenant people, and Christ’s brethren according to the flesh.
Things and individuals outside the scope of “His own” are not in view in John 1:11.
Jesus specifically stated that He had been sent only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and He commissioned His disciples to go only to these same individuals, forbidding them to go “into the way of the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:5, 6; 15:24). The Gentiles were “aliens from the commonwealth [Greek: politeia, referring to one’s ‘citizenship’ or ‘political sphere of activity’] of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
The same thing is true by and through the use of the expression, “his own servants,” in Matthew 25:14. The specific reference is to those within His household, as those within the now desolated house of Israel in John 1:11. “His own servants” can refer to none other than those who belong to Him, comprising His house during the present dispensation. These individuals are neither Jew nor Gentile but rather comprise the “one new man” in Christ.
Through no type of sound exegesis can “his own servants” be enlarged to include unsaved Jews or Gentiles. The servant thrust into the darkness outside at the conclusion of the parable must be reckoned to possess the same standing relative to being the Lord’s own servant as the servants allowed to enter into the joy of their Lord in an earlier part of the parable.
2) His Goods
In Genesis chapter twenty-four, the mission of Abraham’s servant was to obtain a bride for Isaac. The servant had in his possession all of his master’s goods, which belonged to Isaac; and these goods were carried into Mesopotamia with a view to obtaining a bride for Abraham’s son, who remained with his father throughout the time of the search.
Abraham’s servant, once in Mesopotamia and in the presence of Abraham’s own people, made known the purpose for his journey; and once Rebekah had been singled out as the prospective bride, the servant brought forth “jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing.” He gave these to Rebekah, and he also gave “precious things” to other family members (v. 53).
In the antitype, the Holy Spirit is in the world today to obtain a bride for Christ. This is His primary mission in the world during the present dispensation. He has in His possession all the Father’s goods, which belong to the Son; and these goods have been brought into the world with a view to obtaining a bride for the Son, who remains with the Father throughout the time of the search.
The Holy Spirit, as He indwells those comprising the “one new man” in Christ, makes known the purpose for His presence in the world today; and once this purpose begins to be realized — once Christians become aware of the true nature of the Holy Spirit’s present ministry and begin to manifest an interest in that which is uppermost in the mind of the Father — they find themselves, as Rebekah, coming into possession of choice treasures from the things that belong to the Son. And, in line with the type, even other family members, other Christians, come into possession of “precious things” from the Son’s storehouse of treasures.
The distribution of the Master’s goods among His servants during the present dispensation must be in accord with 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10:
But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
God has made known, through His Word, the things that He has prepared “for those who love Him.” And the indwelling Holy Spirit takes this Word, searching “all things, yes, the deep things of God,” and reveals these things to Christians.
In the type there was a distribution of the son’s goods to both Rebekah and other family members, but this was not an equal distribution. The prospective bride received the largest and best portion.
In both the parable of the talents and the parable of the pounds there was a distribution among all servants, but in the parable of the talents some servants received more than other servants. In keeping with the type and the central issue surrounding the Holy Spirit’s mission in the world today, it would have to be recognized that the unequal distribution of the Lord’s goods among Christians occurs on the basis of a Christian’s interest in and adherence to that which Scripture reveals as the very purpose for the present dispensation.
God has set aside two days, two thousand years, to call out the rulers who are to reign as co-heirs with His Son during the coming age. These co-heirs will constitute the bride of Christ, who will reign as consort queen, seated on the throne with Him. And the Holy Spirit is in the world today procuring the bride.
It is those Christians who manifest an interest in and respond to the Holy Spirit’s call as He searches for the bride who find themselves in the position of Rebekah in Genesis 24:53. These are the ones who come into possession of “jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing.”
Other Christians, though they are in possession of what is called “precious things,” find themselves in an entirely different category in relation to things reserved peculiarly for the bride.
“Ability,” as in the parable of the talents, in the light of the type in Genesis 24:1ff, is not to be thought of in a natural sense but in a spiritual sense. Some men have great natural “ability,” allowing them to achieve numerous things; but “ability” in the parable of the talents is something entirely different. “Ability” in this parable is capacity to carry on matters of a spiritual nature through spiritual means in the Lord’s house, not matters of a natural nature through natural means either in the house or out in the world; and this ability pertains particularly and peculiarly to matters relating to the purpose for the present dispensation.
Those Christians who understand the true nature of the Holy Spirit’s mission in the world today, allowing the Holy Spirit to do a work in their lives within this same framework, would have to be looked upon as the ones possessing the most capacity in the realm of “ability”; and within this group there would be varying degrees of “ability,” with some Christians being more zealous in their faithful servitude than other Christians. “Lesser ability” within this same framework would correspondingly come about through lesser capacity as individuals possess lesser degrees of a work of the Spirit in their lives, in keeping with the purpose for the present dispensation.
An interesting thought drawn from Genesis 24:53 concerns the type of goods, from those belonging to Isaac, which the servant gave to Rebekah. He delivered into her hands “jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing.”
The “jewels of silver and jewels of gold,” which would constitute a portion of the Lord’s goods used in trading and trafficking in the antitype, are ultimately seen in a similar sense at issues surrounding the judgment seat of Christ (where usage of that delivered to household servants during the present dispensation will be dealt with).
Those Christians using the “jewels of silver and jewels of gold” to bring forth an increase during the present time will see their works described after the same fashion, as “gold, silver, precious stones,” at the judgment seat. However, those Christians failing in this respect will have nothing to show but works described after an entirely different fashion, as “wood, hay, straw” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
Then the “clothing” would undoubtedly point to the wedding garment, for the prospective bride in the type was present, and she was to array herself in a proper fashion before meeting Isaac (Genesis 24:65).
The same holds true in the antitype. The wedding garment is made up of “righteous acts” (Revelation 19:8), and Christians have been granted the privilege of clothing themselves through the proper use of the Lord’s goods in their possession.
The Lord’s command concerning the manner of living in which those of His house are to be engaged during the time of His absence is clear. The Lord has delivered all His goods into the hands of all His servants and has left them with the command, “Do business till I come.”
Each servant is to be busily engaged, on his Lord’s behalf, with that portion of the Lord’s goods delivered to him personally. He is not to be engaged in another’s affairs, nor are others to be engaged in his affairs.
He is responsible to the Lord alone to exercise faithfulness within the scope of His calling; and he will one day answer to the Lord alone, at the time of His return, for faithfulness or unfaithfulness in carrying out delegated responsibility within the house.
The nature of rewards for faithfulness is clearly revealed to be that of occupying one of the numerous proffered positions as co-heir with Christ, seated with Him on the throne, during the coming age (Matthew 24:47; 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17, 19).
And the nature of chastisement for unfaithfulness is clearly revealed to be not only that of being rejected for one of the numerous proffered positions with Christ but that of chastisement as well (Matthew 24:48-51; 25:26-30; Luke 19:22-26).