The Parable of the Ten Pounds: A Life Well Spent
October 18, 2022
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061

Luke 19:11-27 “And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”

This parable was spoken when Jesus and the disciples had ascended from Jericho and were near to Jerusalem (Lu. 19:11). Christ continues to prepare the disciples for His death.

The main lesson was to correct the disciples’ wrong thinking that Christ was going to set up the kingdom at that time. “he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Lu. 19:11).

The parable contains many important prophetic teachings. 

1. The kingdom of God in the New Testament is the literal kingdom promised to David, not a spiritual kingdom, not the church or the church age. 

2. Before the establishment of the kingdom, Christ will go to a far country, which refers to His ascension to heaven (Lu. 19:12). 

3. Christ will be rejected by those who should be the citizens of His kingdom (Lu. 19:14). This refers both to Israel and to the world at large. Psalm 2 describes the rejection of Christ by the nations and the establishment of the kingdom by the rod of iron. 

4. Christ will give His servants gifts and instruct them to “occupy till I come” (Lu. 19:13). This refers to the church age and the Great Commission and the responsibility of every believer to do this work. Compare Mt. 28:18-20; Mr. 16:15; Lu. 24:44-48; Ac. 1:8; 2 Co. 5:20; Php. 2:16. 

- Each servant receives the one pound. This is different from the Parable of the Talents (Mt. 25:14-30), in which each servant was given a different number of talents, “to every man according to his several ability.” The talents signify differing spiritual gifts and ministry callings. The pounds signify the general calling of all believers, which is to pursue God’s will (Ro. 12:1-2), to preach the gospel as an ambassador for Christ (2 Co 5:20), to be a good soldier in the battle for truth (Eph. 6:10-18), to be a priest of God in a needy world (1 Pe. 2:5), to seek first the kingdom of God (Mt. 6:33),  to seek those things which are above (Col. 3:1-4), etc. The pound refers to the whole Christian life and God’s claim on it.

- “Occupy” is pragmateúomai, “to do business, to trade or traffic” (Complete Word Study Bible). In verse 15, “trading” is diapragmateúomai, “deponent from dia (through) and pragmateuomai, negotiate, trade” (CWSB). Christ describes the Christian life as a business venture. The trading of the pound represents how the born again believer spends his Christian life. If I spend my Christian life wisely in God’s will, being occupied with His great business in this present world, I obtain reward for the present and for eternity. If I waste my Christian life on myself, I will lose the reward. God’s business is by far the most important business, and to walk diligently in God’s will, and to be content in God’s will, is the very wisest, most prosperous, path in life. Missionary Jim Elliot, who died young as a martyr at the hands of the Auca Indians in South America, said, “A man is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” William Borden is another example of the countless young people who have wisely surrendered 100% to God. As the son of a wealthy businessman, William could have had anything he pleased. But on an international trip at age 16, that he felt God’s call to be a missionary. His unsaved father was not happy with his decision and told him that he could never work in the family business. Not deterred, William wrote in his Bible, “No retreat.” After his father died and he inherited the family fortune, William gave it away to missionary organizations, turned his back on wealth and comfort, and set sail to the mission field. He wrote in his Bible, “No reserve.” Stopping in Egypt to study the Arabic language, William contracted spinal meningitis and died within one month at age 25. When he learned that he was dying, he wrote in his Bible, “No regrets.” William Borden spent his “pound” well! 

- This is taught in many Scriptures. “... godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Ti. 4:8). “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Mt. 6:20). “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mr. 10:29-30). “Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Ti. 6:19). “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pe. 1:10-11). “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Re. 2:26-27). “Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Co. 3:13-15). “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Co. 5:9-10).

5. Christ’s servants will give account for their service (Lu. 19:15-26). 

- Those who used their gifts and opportunities wisely will be rewarded with positions of authority (Lu. 19:16-19).

- Those who neglect Christ’s service will be punished with loss of reward (Lu. 19:20-26). This servant did not know Christ and had no interest in serving Christ. He thought he could have salvation as a ticket to heaven and go about his own business. He is the same servant that is described in Mt. 25:24-30. He is a nominal Christian who has made a profession of salvation but does not possess salvation. 

6. The enemies of Christ will be slain, meaning they will be destroyed with everlasting destruction. “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Lu. 19:27). They will not enter into Christ’s kingdom (Mt. 13:41).

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