Parable of the Talents

Workshop Leaders’ Bible Study

This workshop leader’s Bible study is a historical, theological, and contextual introduction to the Parable of the Talents rotation of Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest workshop rotation program.  It is intended to provide workshop leaders with:

·        A historical context for understanding the Bible story.

·        A Biblical context for reading and teaching the story.

·        The theological basis for the concepts to be taught to the children.

In Kirk of Kildaire’s Faith Quest program, workshop leaders attend a one-hour Bible study two weeks prior to the start of a new rotation.  This Bible study helps workshop leaders understand how the concepts to be taught to the children are derived from the Bible story and how the lessons in the rotation fit together to reinforce the concepts.  It also provides an opportunity for the workshop leaders to grow in their own faith and understanding of the Bible.

It will be helpful to have a chalkboard, whiteboard, or flip chart for writing down questions or observations during the Bible study.

Note:  This is not a comprehensive study of the text, but only a few notes to help provide context and background for workshop leaders.  Consult titles cited in the reference list at the end of these notes for more information.



            Matthew 25:14-30

Memory verse for this rotation:

            "Each of you has been blessed with one of God's many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others.  So use your gift well." 1 Peter 4:10 CEV


  • Jesus taught us about God's kingdom using parables.
  • God has given each of us special gifts and talents to use, not hoard.
  • God's faithful followers use their gifts to serve God and others.
  • Everything in life is a gift from God so we must use our gifts responsibly (time, abilities, possessions).
  • God will reward faithfulness and punish unfaithfulness.

Prayer Concerns & Prayer

·        If workshop leaders do not know each other, give them an opportunity to introduce each other and say which workshop they will be leading.

·        Begin the Bible study by praying for God’s guidance as teachers begin a new rotation.

Reading the text

Ask a workshop leader to read the text aloud.  Since this rotation focuses on an entire chapter, you might want to divide the reading among three or four workshop leaders.

Ask the workshop leaders what questions came to mind as they heard the story or read it before the Bible study.  Write down any questions that arise and will need to be answered during the Bible study.


Historical, Theological, and Biblical Contexts

            This parable is part of one of five large speeches that Jesus gives in Matthew.  It is sometimes referred to as the Judgment Discourse for much of it is about being prepared for the coming of Christ.  Matthew wrote this speech using many different sources and arranged them to meet his purposes (Boring, 429).  The speech “functions as warning to insiders to live an authentic life devoted to deeds of justice and mercy, in the light of the eschatological victory of God and coming judgment on present unfaithfulness” (Boring, 429).  Matthew uses the parable of the talents to instruct on the life of a faithful follower who awaits Christ’s coming.  For Matthew, “the meaning of being ‘good and faithful’ is not mere theological correctness, passive waiting, or strict obedience to clear instructions, but active responsibility that takes initiative and risk” (Boring, 453).


Interesting Words, Phrases, Ideas

v. 15 talents – amount of money “equal to the wages of a day laborer for fifteen years” and came to be used in the Middle Ages to describe one’s “God-given abilities” (Boring, 453).  No instructions are given – “each servant must decide how to use his time during the master’s absence” (Boring, 453).

v. 19 the master returns to settle the accounts:  there will be accountability – a time of reckoning.

v. 24-25 contradictory image of the master.  He seems fair up until this point but now this slave tells of him being harsh and unjust.  The parable does not resolve this contradiction for us.

v. 28 It seems that the servants are now being given the money outright instead of as just a trust.  With this realization, Boring says, “the whole parable must be understood in terms of grace and the response to it, rather than stewardship of property that remains another’s” (453).

v. 29 What do we make of this?  What happened to the last shall be first, etc.?

v. 30 “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is Matthew’s phrase for hell.



How does this story reflect the themes that we have identified earlier in the overview of Matthew?

  • The Conflict of Kingdoms and the nature of the kingdom of God:  This story tells us that God will reward those who are faithful and will punish those who are unfaithful.  It connects faithfulness with active service.
  • The identity of Jesus Christ:  Christ will come again as the judge.
  • The identity of the true people of God: We are called to faithfully serve God with action in this time of waiting.


In Matthew we often find tension and contradiction – it is not necessarily expected that we resolve this.  Boring says that we should not work “to make Matthew more consistent than he was interested in being, or in fact was” (457).


Workshop Summaries

Ask each workshop leader to summarize his or her workshop.  As they do so, point out the concepts that each lesson reinforces.  Ask workshop leaders if they have any questions about the logistics or practical application of their lesson.

Antioch Arcade:  The children will play a game with pennies that will teach them that the more you give, the more you get in return.  They will also try answering some questions that review the facts of the story.

Apostles’ Playhouse:  The children will show their understanding of the Parable of the Talents by pantomiming different kinds of talents and brainstorming how they can use these talents to serve God.

Creation Station:  The children will draw their own hands showing the gifts that God has given them.  They will learn that God has given us differing gifts and talents that we must discover and share to help make a better world

Good News:  After reviewing the story the children will make promises about what they can do to use their talents to serve God and others in the church and the community.

Holywood:  Children will view the video Mother Teresa – Seeing the Face of Jesus.  The video, through addressing the life of Mother Teresa from a child until the time of her death, does an amazing job at addressing the concepts for this lesson.

Praising Puppets:  By acting out four skits with puppets, the children will learn how Jesus used this parable to teach that God has given each of us talents and gifts and that we are to use these to do his work.  This lesson will also touch on the concept that there are rewards for being faithful to God.


Review Questions

Return to the questions that were gathered at the start of the hour.  Have they been answered?  Are there any further questions about the Bible story or about the lessons?

Closing Prayer

Close the Bible study with a prayer.


Boring, M. Eugene. “Matthew.” New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. VIII. Leander Keck, et al. editors. (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1995).  89-124 and 428-429 and 453-459..

Spivey, Robert A. and D. Moody Smith. Anatomy of the New Testament. (New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, 1995). pp. 97-129