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Parable of the Minas (Pounds)

Luke 19:12-27




Approximately one-third of the teachings personally conveyed by Jesus Christ as noted in the Gospels were in the form of parables.  In the following passage He gave His reasons for using the parabolic form in teaching truth:


And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.  For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their  ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:10-17)


Jesus Christ used parables to illustrate truth for the following reasons:


  • Parables were designed to teach the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, a designation of the coming millennial kingdom that will be Christ’s future corporeal reign of 1,000 years upon the face of the earth.  The term “kingdom of heaven” has been interpreted by expositors of the Word in a variety of ways, e.g., as the “sphere over which sovereign God rules,” or as the “sphere of all who have been granted eternal life.”  But within the context of the purpose of why Christ came to the Jewish State of Israel, which will be discussed later; it may be determined that the term and several of Christ’s parables were intended to refer to and illustrate the structure and administration of His coming literal kingdom upon earth.


  • Parables were targeted toward the understanding of Christ’s disciples and not for all who heard His teachings.  He used the parabolic form to reveal truth to some, and to hide it from others.  A mixed audience attended His teachings; some were believers and others were unbelievers.  Some had placed their faith in His person (deity), His purpose (grace-gift of salvation), and His office (Messiah); while others rejected these critical aspects of His incarnation and life.  To those who welcomed Him, they would have more; but to those who rejected Him, they would have less (Matthew 13:10-17).


  • Parables were the fulfillment of prophecy (vs. 14) found in Isaiah 6:9, which foretold that many would hear but not understand.  But now it was time for His disciples to understand His teachings and to be “blessed” (happy) in their understanding. Also see Psalm 78:2 and Ephesians 3:9.


Parables are unlike allegories.  While an allegory may be a story constructed without a basis in reality in order to convey truth, a parable is based on a known realm (reality).  The truth to be learned was gained from transference from reality to the unknown.  It becomes the hearer’s responsibility to properly understand what truth is being transferred from the reality of the parable that is told.  When Christ used a parable, He expected the believer to understand the parable by making the necessary transference from its reality to the truth that He was seeking to convey.


It is interesting to note that of all the parables delivered after the Jewish leaders of the day registered their rejection of Christ as Messiah (Matthew 12), only two parables were interpreted by Christ—the parable of the sower and the parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13).  It is conjectured that He explained these two parables to set a pattern of interpretation for all His parables.  The fact that He did not interpret His subsequent parables indicates that He fully expected His disciples to understand what He taught.


Certain principles should be followed in the interpretation of parables, as follows:


  1. All doctrinal interpretation is totally dependent on the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13; 1 John 2:20, 27).


  1. Parables that are concerned with the kingdom of heaven refer to the coming form of theocracy that is often referred to as the millennial kingdom, which will be a period of 1,000 years when Christ will personally reign upon the earth.  The fact that parables are about the kingdom of heaven is expressed often by the Lord Himself.  Because the Church dispensation developed within the time bounds covered by the parables, and because the Church is a part of the future theocratic kingdom, interpreters often and erroneously apply the parables directly to the Church.


  1. Parables are to be interpreted within their immediate context, which often conveys the problem to which Christ is directing the parable.  In this light it is important to understand in which gospel record the parable is situated.  Each of the four gospels presents a different picture of Christ and His ministry while upon earth.  John emphasizes His deity and His grace-message of salvation.  In it He is referred to as the “Son of God.”  In Luke His humanity is primarily in focus, and He is called the “Son of man.”  Mark emphasizes His miraculous works and His position as “Servant.”  Matthew reveals Him as the “King”—the “King of the Jews” and the coming “King of kings” and “Lord of lords” to rule over the earth during His millennial reign.


  1. The interpretation should be based on a proper understanding of the reality from which the hearer is expected to gain truth.  In other words, one cannot interpret the parable of the sower unless one properly understands the process of sowing seeds during New Testament times.  It is impossible to discover the truth in a parable by superimposing current culture on the Jewish culture of New Testament times.  It is important for the student of God’s Word to become familiar with the frames of reference in which the parables are set, i.e., the culture, customs, and norms of the days when Christ walked the earth.




This parable is another “kingdom of heaven” parable similar to the “kingdom of heaven” parables of the wedding guests (a.k.a. parable of the wedding feast, Matthew 22:1-14), of the wise and faithful servant (Matthew 24:45-51), of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).


All these parables were designed to teach the organizational structure of the coming millennial kingdom upon earth.  Whereas the first reveals the extraction of the “chosen” from the “called,” the second reveals the extraction of the “faithful and wise” from the chosen, the third reveals how the highest rank of the Bride of Christ will be selected, the fourth reveals how the second highest rank of the Bride of Christ will be selected; this parable reveals the lowest rank of rule in the coming kingdom, as well as the levels of obscurity below it.


It would be helpful for the reader to have a proper understanding of the three tenses of salvation, i.e., past tense pertaining to the salvation of a person’s spirit and which is immutable (unchangeable) and based solely on grace through faith in Christ, present tense pertaining to the salvation of a person’s soul (life as it relates to the millennial kingdom and which is mutable (changeable) and based on divine good works during this life, and future tense pertaining to the salvation of a person’s body at the Rapture.  A review of these may be gained from the topical study entitled “Rule of Three,” which may be accessed from the topical section of studies at


As previously mentioned, the parable of the minas (translated “pounds” in the KJV) is one of several parables that reveal the structure and rulership of the coming kingdom of heaven.  The occasion for them is found in Matthew 21 in which Christ announced that the kingdom of heaven would be taken from Israel and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (Matthew 21:43)—the believers (gentile and Jew) of the age of grace. 


By comparing these parables the believer learns that he must be faithful and wise (the achievement of “super knowledge”—Gk. epigonosis); that this required wisdom comes from the “second” portion of (daily surrender to) the Holy Spirit, which is accompanied by epigonosis of God’s Word, and that he must be faithful in utilizing the possessions (treasures) of God that he has been given in conjunction with his natural abilities of which he has also been endowed by God.


Three items of interest that must be considered, as follow:


  1. The kingdom as offered to Israel was contingent upon “national repentance.”  This was the “gospel of the kingdom” as preached by John the Baptist and by Christ (Matthew 3:2; 4:17).  If Israel would have repented, recognized their Messiah, and brought forth national fruit; the kingdom could have then been established and the nation would have been in it with all its spiritual blessings.  But Israel didn’t and it became a nation set aside with only future earthly blessings given to them through the unconditional Abrahamic covenant.  Individually they could be saved and become a member of the Church, but as a nation they lost their right to the kingdom by rejecting Christ.


  1. The kingdom that Israel lost is given by Christ to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof—a holy nation identified by Peter as the Church (1 Peter 2:9, 10)


  1. The kingdom was not given to this nation based on salvation only, but rather on works after salvation (Matthew 21:43b).  Thus, not all Christians will be privileged to rule and reign with Christ over the kingdom, but only those who produce divine good works—this is the key to all the parables that reveal the structure and rulership of the coming kingdom.


The Parable and Its Interpretation

Luke 19:12-27




This parable, along with the four others mentioned above, teaches the organizational structure of the coming millennial kingdom (“kingdom of heaven”) upon earth.  The “Harmony of the Gospels” as recorded in Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible, Nelson Bibles, 1997, indicates that chronologically this parable may have been given prior to the other parables and after Jesus’ interview with the tax collector Zacchaeus in Jericho but before His return to the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany.


The chronological aspect of this parable is only one reason why this parable and the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-36) are not one and the same.  Although in both parables the servants (bond-slaves) receive certain benefits and are expected to faithfully utilize them, which results in eventual consequences, both positive and negative in nature; there are substantial differences in the two parables, as follows:


  • One issued minas (Gk. mna)—a sum of weight or coin that is worth 100 drachmas or the wage a normal worker would receive for between 100-120 days of labor.  The other issued talents (Gk. talanton)—a sum of weight or coin that is worth a large sum of money or 6000 denarii (a denarii represented a day’s wage of a normal worker; therefore, a talent represented a wage of approximately 16.66 years for a normal worker).


  • The parable of the talents was about 3 servants; the parable of the minas 10.


  • The parable of the talents bestows unequal benefits/gifts to the servants while the parable of the minas bestows an equal benefit/gift to each.


  • Whereas the parable of the talents indicates that believers differ from each other in the amount of benefits/gifts received, the parable of the minas teaches that they differ from each other in the diligence they display.


  • Whereas in the parable of the talents equal reward is achieved for equal effort in accordance with the unequal benefits/gifts, which are determined by the individual’s personal ability; the parable of the minas (pounds) focuses strictly on the faithfulness in the use of the distributed equal benefit/gifts.


One thing is for certain; Christ communicated this parable when He was near Jerusalem and because His followers thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately (Luke 19:11).


The Parable and its Interpretation


Luke 19:12-27

Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’  But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’  And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.  Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’  And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’  And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’  Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’  Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief.  For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow.  Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’  And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.  (“But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’”


Just as the man traveling into a far country in the parable of the talents represented Jesus Christ, the nobleman in this parable of the minas (pounds) is Jesus Christ.  This occurred when He ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father and began His high priestly ministry.  But prior to leaving he called His ten servants—the number “10” in typology represents ordinal perfection or completion (the whole of something).  Here in this parable, as in the parable of the ten virgins, the number ten (servants) means all of the Christians (saved people) of the Church Age.


To each one Christ has distributed one mina, a gift of equal value.  In this case it is the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity who initiates (transacts) within the individual the “new birth.”  But even more specifically, it is noted that to each saved person, the Holy Spirit is shared equally, i.e., no one believer has more of the Holy Spirit in terms of His indwelling than any other.  In the parable of the ten virgins this would be the “first portion” of the oil.


In addition to the gift of the Holy Spirit to each believer, Christ leaves special instructions.  He tells them to “do business” (“occupy” in the KJV) until He returns.  The word translated “do business” in the Greek is pramateuomai, which means to stay busy by trading.  In other words, each believer was to busy himself with trading his mina (pound) in order to gain more minas (pounds), i.e., Spirit-related products.


On the return of the nobleman (Christ), which correlates with the aspect of Christ’s Second Coming identified as the Rapture, all believers will be called to give an accounting of their mina-trading at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10; Galatians 6:7; Colossians 3:24, 25; Revelations 22:12).


For the purpose of illustration in this parable Christ reveals the judgment of three of the ten servants, a sampling that conveys the concept and primary teaching of the parable.  Keep in mind that this parable differs from the parable of the talents in that the parable of the talents emphasized the second portion of oil (Spirit), which is epignosis (the fullness of knowledge); while this parable speaks only of the first portion of the Spirit, which is gnosis or rudimentary knowledge.  The results achieved by these servants correlate with their faithful use of the basic benefits and knowledge granted to all believers (i.e., the first portion of oil—the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit).  And with this in mind, the following are the judgments that pertain to the three servants:


  1. The first servant gained ten additional minas (pounds) by trading, or ten times that which was given to him.  He was then called “good servant” (not “good and faithful” as in the parable of the talents), and was awarded authority (rulership) over ten cities in the kingdom


  1. The second servant gained five additional minas (pounds) by trading, or five times that which was given to him.  He was likewise called “good servant” and was awarded authority over five cities in the kingdom.


  1. The third servant gained no additional minas (pounds) by trading, offering the same excuse as the deficient servant of the parable of the talents.  As a result he was called “wicked servant,” lost his one mina (pound) to the servant who had gained ten mains, and lost all power to rule in the kingdom.


The following remarks by Gary T. Whipple from his book Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture are cogent:


A careful examination between this parable and the [parable of the talents] will show a marked difference between the two.  Whereas, the servants of the [parable of the talents]  were given a “special power” (second portion of oil) in accordance to their own abilities, all of the servants of the [parable of the minas] had “equal” amounts of power (the first portion of oil) based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Whereas, the two servants of the [parable of the talents] received the same rewards, those of the [parable of the minas] received different amounts of rewards.  The reason for this is the two servants of the [parable of the talents] had talents given to them based on their “abilities” (one five, the other two), yet they both “doubled” their amount by trading.  Contrariwise, the servants of the [parable of the minas] all had the “same” amount (one pound each), with one gaining ten pounds and the other five.  The result of which shows that both gained reward in direct “proportion” to their work.


The five and ten cities awarded to the two servants of [the parable of the minas] represent the rulership over territory in the coming kingdom.  Those who will rule such cities under Christ will rule from the third level (third highest from the top) in the kingdom structure.  They are the antithesis of the third level of Satan’s present kingdom which is identified in Eph. 6:12 as “rulers of darkness” (or, world rulers in obscurity). (Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture by Gary T. Whipple, Th.M., Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc. 2003)


There are also differences between the unproductive servants of the parables of the talents and the minas (pounds).  The first hid his talent in the earth—an indication that he refused to do any work whatsoever.  The second wrapped his mina (pound) in a handkerchief (Gk. soudarion, meaning “sweat-cloth” i.e. a towel that was used for wiping perspiration from the face or binding the face of a corpse)—indicating he wrapped it in his own dead self-efforts, i.e., he attempted to produce his own good works by the “sweat of his own brow,” which in God’s sight are works that are dead or totally ineffective.


And this lesson from the unproductive servant of this parable is absolutely imperative to understand in the life of every believer.  It is fundamental that a lost person can in no way affect his own personal eternal salvation (of the spirit) by his own self-efforts (good works).  This is attested to over and over again throughout the Bible (Romans 3:20, 27, 28; 4:2; 9:11; 11:16; Ephesians 2:8, 9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).  When the lost person is illuminated by the Holy Spirit to this truth and makes the willful decision to turn in faith alone to Christ alone (while turning away from all other confidences—this  is “biblical repentance”) for his personal eternal salvation, he (his spirit) is instantly saved. 


But while this is a forever transaction, many, if not most, believers never succeed in the salvation of their soul (Gk. life), which has nothing to do with their destiny in the portals of heaven but everything to do with their inheritance (rewards—reign) with Jesus Christ during the millennial (1000 years) kingdom upon earth (Colossians 3:23, 24).  Yes, their spirits are saved and will be with God for eternity (John 14:3; 17:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:17).  Their body will also be saved when it is changed into a glorified body like the body of Christ at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 2 Corinthians 5:4; Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).  But to neglect their souls (life) while upon earth will produce only dire consequences at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 2:6; 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 6:7; Colossians 3:24, 25; Revelation 22:12) and which will translate to loss of rewards, i.e., position and rulership during the coming kingdom upon earth.


How does a Christian who comes to Christ by faith alone then miss out in the “salvation of his soul (life)”—the loss of his inheritance with Christ during the millennial kingdom?  He does it by following the example of the unproductive servant in the parable of the minas (pounds).  He never learns the lesson that just as one cannot save himself (spirit-salvation) by self-effort, one cannot produce divine good works by self-effort.  He takes his mina (pound) and hides it in his own sweat-cloth of human good works, which are dead (ineffective) and which cannot possibly please God.  The apostle Paul had this to say about the matter:


There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1-8)


For the believer to attempt to live for God by doing works in his own self-efforts (in the flesh) is to be carnally minded according to Paul, which is death.  His human good works will only result in wood, hay, and straw (1 Corinthians 3:12) at the Judgment Seat of Christ and therefore will be consumed by the judgment fire even though he will be saved “so as through fire” (vs. 15).  The writer of Hebrews put it this way:


Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works . . . . (Hebrews 6:1)


How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)


It is, as mentioned previously, imperative that the Christian understand how to “save his soul (life)”—another way of saying being sanctified or growing (maturing) spiritually.  As he turned from all other confidences (self-efforts, etc.) in faith alone to Christ alone, so he must do the same in order to produce divine good works.  He must submit (yield) himself in faith to God (i.e., the control of the Holy Spirit—Ephesians 5:17, 18) and thereby “walk in Christ” (Colossians 2:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1).  As the Christian takes this path of faith, he must also understand that sin must be confessed on a regular basis in order not to grieve and limit (quench) the control of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 1 John 1:9).  Furthermore, this sanctification process can only be enhanced and realized by studying (ingesting and digesting) the meat of God’s Word (John 17:17; Hebrews 5:12-14).


The following comments from Gary T. Whipple appropriately close out this study:


Also, the unprofitable servants of each of the parables [talents and minas] are called by different titles from God.  For whereas, the unprofitable servant of the fourth [talents] parable was called “wicked” and “slothful” the unprofitable servant of the fifth [minas] parable was called only “wicked” (not slothful).  The reason for this will be readily seen in the work that each was to perform.  For whereas, the servant of the fourth parable did nothing (no work), not even self-works, the servant of the fifth parable worked.  He was not lazy.  He just worked in his own efforts i.e. man-made church programs.  Thus, the wicked and slothful servant was given a greater punishment for no works in contrast to the wicked servant who worked in his own efforts.  It is the belief of this writer that both servants will be in “the outer darkness,” or “obscurity” (possibly in the fourth level of the kingdom structure)—a  place of no reward, or power, or worth; a place where they can be only spectators of the kingdom rather then participants in it for one thousand years.  The reader may ask, why didn’t Jesus use the term “the outer darkness” here in Luke?  The answer is that this term is peculiar to Matthew only.  Of the three times it is mentioned in scripture, they are all in Matthew.


As this section of study culminates we pray that the spiritual eyes of the reader have been opened in these parables [wedding feast, wise and faith steward, ten virgins, talents, and pounds], and that he may order his life to be lived in the light of these truths.  The church of the twentieth century largely does not believe in the coming kingdom, and as such is busily trying to establish their own kingdom of God through the organization of the church and with their “own” efforts.  They point to their evangelization, their church building programs, their great amounts of money, and their self-programs of getting great numbers of people.  With this, they are saying “…we are increased with goods and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17b).  And all of the time, they are hiding their pound in their own “self-efforts” (sweat cloth) in order to gain self-glory and the riches of this world.  (Shock and Surprise Beyond the Rapture; Gary T. Whipple, Th.M., Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc., 2003).