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Calvin commenting at Matthew 25:15: To every one according to his own ability

The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.
(Mat 25:14-15 CEV)

“14  “For this may be compared to a Master about to go on a long journey, who called his slaves and handed over to them his possessions.15 To one slave he gave five talents, to another two, and to yet another, one talent–all according to their ability. Then he left on his trip abroad. (Mt 25:14-15 mhm)

See Calvin_Bible 05068

Matthew 25:15.

To every one according to his own ability. By this term Christ does not distinguish between natural gifts and the gifts of the Spirit; for we have neither power nor skill {1 } which ought not to be acknowledged as having been received from God; and, therefore, whoever shall determine to give God his share will leave nothing for himself.

What then is meant by saying, that the master of the house gives to each person more or less, according to his own ability?

It is because God, as he has assigned to every one his place, and has bestowed on him natural gifts, gives him also this or the other injunction, employs him in the management of affairs, raises him to various offices, furnishes him with abundant means of eminent usefulness, and presents to him the opportunity.

It is absurd, however, in the Papists to infer from this, that the gifts of God are conferred on every man according to the measure which he deserves. For, though the old translator, {2 } employed the word virtus, {3 } he did not mean that God bestows his gifts, according as men have acquitted themselves well, and obtained the praise of virtue, but only so far as the master of the house has judged them to be suitable. Now we know that no man is found by God to be suitable till He has made him so; and the Greek word δυναμις, ( power, ability,) which Christ employed, is free from all ambiguity.

———— –

{1 } “Il n’y a ne puissance, ne industrie, ou dexterit”;  —  “there is neither power, nor industry, nor skill.”

{2 } “Le translateur Latin ancien”;  — ” the old Latin translator.”

{3 } An interpreter who was willing to twist a passage, so as to bring out of it any meaning that he chose, would find the vagueness of the Latin word virtus to be well suited to his purpose. Its derivation from vir, a man, shows that it originally signified manliness, from which it easily passed to denote courage, and, from the high estimation in which courage was held among warlike nations, became the general expression for moral excellence, out of which arose the application of it to other kinds of excellence, as in the phrase, virtutes orationis, the ornaments of style. Again, from denoting manly vigor it came naturally to denote ability; and it is undoubtedly in this sense, with which our English version accords, that rirtus is employed by the Vulgate in this passage.  —  Ed.

 

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Preceding

Calvin looking at Matthew 25:1-12: The kingdom of heaven and foolishness

Matthew 25:14-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Keep Busy until the Parousia

Matthew 25:14-30 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Keep Busy until the Parousia

Matthew 25:14-30 – Keep Busy until the Parousia

MT25:14 “For this may be compared to a Master about to go on a long journey,[1] who called his slaves and handed over to them his possessions. MT25:15 To one slave he gave five talents,[2] to another two, and to yet another, one talent – all according to their ability.[3] Then he left on his trip abroad.[4] MT25:16 Immediately the slave with five talents put the money to work and gained five more. MT25:17 Similarly the slave with two gained another two talents. MT25:18 But, the slave with only the single talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid the Master’s silver coin.

MT25:19 “Now after a long time[5] the Master of those slaves returned[6] and took up the [financial] logs.[7] MT25:20 First the slave with five talents approached and said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents; see here, I have gained five more.’ MT25:21 His Master told him, ‘Excellent, good and trustworthy slave.[8] You were faithful at something small, I will let you rule over larger matters.[9] Share your Master’s gladness.’[10] MT25:22 Also the slave given the two talents approached and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ MT25:23 His Master told him, ‘Excellent, good and trustworthy slave. You were faithful over something small, I will let you rule over larger matters. Share your Master’s gladness.’

MT25:24 “Finally, the slave given the one talent approached and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a difficult person.[11] You reaped where you did not sow and you gathered [grain] you have never scattered. MT25:25 Because I was afraid of you I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, here, I am returning what is yours.’ MT25:26 Now his Master responded to him and said, ‘Evil and lazy slave,[12] you were aware that I reaped where I did not plant and I gathered in where I had not scattered seed. MT25:27 At least it was a necessity that you deposit my silver coins with the bankers. Then upon my arrival I take what is mine with interest.’[13]

MT25:28 “‘So, take the talent from him and give it to the slave with the ten talents. MT25:29 Because [the trustworthy and responsible] person will be given even more bountifully.[14] On the other hand, [the irresponsible and lazy] person will be deprived of even what he might have possessed. MT25:30 Throw this useless slave into the darkness outside.[15] There will be great lamentation and grinding of teeth.’”

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[1] A Master about to go on a long journey: The Master is Jesus about ready to leave earth and ascend to heaven. Compare Luke 19:12.

“ Then Jesus said: “A certain man of noble birth traveled to a distant land to receive for himself a kingdom and then to return.” (Lu 19:12 mhm)

[2] Five talents: Or, NEB: five bags of gold; WMS: five thousand dollars; NOR: three thousand pounds; BECK: $10,000.

[3] Their ability: Or, RHM: each according to his particular ability; NEB: each according to his capacity; BAS: everyone as he was able.

[4] Then he left on his trip abroad: Or, NEB: left the country; WMS: started on his long journey.

[5] After a long time: No one could have predicted how “long a time” this was to be. See notes on Daniel 7 elsewhere for the prophetic horizon.

[6] The Master of those slaves returned: The Greek is ERCHETAI and is a virtual synonym for PAROUSIA. The “lord” left and was absent while his slaves worked (or did not work) and when he returns he becomes present again. This parousia begins with judgment of the house and the accounts of each slave.

[7] Took up the [financial] logs: The Greek is LOGON and this is the record of the slaves’ activity. Or, RSV: settled accounts with them. Regarding the parousia-judgment research judgment and such texts as Matthew 12:36, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 John 2:28.

“ But I tell you that every fruitless word human’s speak will be held to account on Judgment Day.” (Mt 12:36 mhm)

“ For it is necessary that all of us appear in front of the judgment-seat of the Christ, so that we might receive what we deserve for those things performed by means of the body, whether these things be good or vile. (2Co 5:10 mhm)

“ And now, little children, continue to remain in him so that whenever he is made visible we might be free-spoken in his Presence and not be humiliated when in front of him.” (1Jo 2:28 mhm)

[8] Excellent, good and trustworthy slave: Or, GDSP: my excellent, faithful slave; PME: you are a sound, reliable servant.

[9] I will let you rule over larger matters: Or, KJV: make thee ruler over many things; RSV: I will set you over much; NEB: put you in charge of something big; NOR: entrust many things to your care.

[10] Share your Master’s gladness: Or, KJV: enter thou into the joy of thy lord; TCNT: come and share your master’s joy; NEB: your master’s delight; MOF: your master’s feast; BECK: be happy with your master. Note the reward for the two is the same.

[11] A difficult person: Or, KJV: a hard man; WEY: a severe man; NOR: a tight-fisted man. Few would view Jesus as “hard” or “severe.” On the one hand this is the view of the wicked slave; on the other it is good to realize the Lord has two sides – one he shows to the faithful and one he shows to the wicked.

[12] Evil and lazy slave: Or, KJV: wicked and slothful; RHM: wicked servant and cowardly; NEB: you lazy rascal; TCNT: you lazy, worthless servant. This is the slave in love with the inspiration of Jesus but hating the work of Jesus.

[13] What is mine with interest: What has our Lord given us to do business with? How do we increase these? Surely it is more than a pleasing personality having memorized inspirational verses? Do we see in our Lord an example of increasing his Master’s possessions?

[14] [The trustworthy and responsible] person will be given even more bountifully: Or, TCNT: for, to him who has, more will be given; RIEU: for in every case more shall be given to the man who has.

[15] The darkness outside: That judgment described at Daniel 12:2 and Matthew 25:46.

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Da 12:2 NIV)

“”Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”” (Mt 25:46 NIV)

“ And these goats will depart into an everlasting pruning; but the righteous into everlasting life.”” (Mt 25:46 mhm)

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Preceding

Matthew 25:1-12 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Judgment by the King and Ten Virgins

Matthew 25:13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Keep on the Watch

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