Bro. David Thomas Jr.


The term parable comes from the Greek word parabole which mean "a placing beside".  That means it is a comparison or an illustration.  There are many reasons why Jesus used parables as a teaching method.  Jesus clearly stated that he wanted to use parables to hide the truth from those who lacked the motivation to search for the meaning of his teachings or who were looking for something they could use to condemn Jesus.
     Jesus was asked, "Why speakest thou them in parables?"  In Matthew 13:11-12 we read, "He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.  For whosoever hath, to him shall be given and he shall have more abundance: But whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."  Those who did not have that desire to find the meaning in Jesus' parables would not find it.  The understanding will be taken away from them.
     In the same way we will not find the truth behind God's Word unless we truly make an effort to find it.  So many who call themselves Christians today really don't know what the Bible teaches.  We read in 2 Thess. 2: 10, 11, "They received not the love of the truth that they might be saved: and for this cause, God sent them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie."
     There are other reasons why Jesus taught using parables or at least parables are helpful teaching aids even though Jesus didn't say so specifically.  Parables give an idea or lesson a form or body that preserves it in a tangible shape for future ages.  You may remember a story your teacher told you when you were a child.  The story stays with you many years later.  If your teacher had not used a story you may not have remembered the lesson.  If Jesus had used just a series of statements instead of his parables, they may not have left such a lasting impression on us.
     A third reason why Jesus used parables is that the mind takes a natural delight in this manner of teaching.  It appeals not only to the understanding but to the feelings and the imagination.  The things that are pleasurable when we study them are those that are the longest remembered.
     Another reason for using parables is that they teach us a lesson in a more engaging or less offensive manner than direct statements.  If someone were to condemn us directly we are more likely to reject the condemnation in the typical human manner.  A parable, however, may seem less offensive to us.  For example, if we were to condemn someone for being too worldly, that person would probably get defensive and reject our condemnation.  If we quoted the parable of the sower and the seed, however, including the description of how Jesus compares the thorns to an excess of worldly pleasures, that same person may be less likely to take offensive.  A parable may show someone where they are going wrong without offending them.

Ten Virgins

One subject Jesus often used with his parables is the kingdom of God.  We can conclude that Jesus was hiding this subject from those who were not sincere.  Interestingly enough, this is a subject that most Christians do not understand today.  An example of a parable about the kingdom is the parable of the ten virgins which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
     We read, "And five of them were wise and five of them were foolish.  They that were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them.  But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him.  Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out.  But the wise answered saying not so; lest there be not enough for us and you; but go rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage and the door was shut.  Afterward, came also other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.  Watch therefore for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
     The lamps that the ten virgins had were torches that consisted of a long pole with oil drenched rags at the top.  This is indicated by the fact that these lamps were trimmed.  The charred ends of the rags were cut off and oil was added.  Small clay lamps would have been of little use in an outdoor procession.  This parable makes for a good comparison.  These torches were not like lamps that could be lit once and stay on for hours.  They had to be constantly replenished with oil.  A good supply of oil was necessary because these torches had to be replenished about every 15 minutes.  Oil, which is the basis of light, is the symbol of the Word of God.  As I have found and as many of you have also found, the mind needs constant replenishment with the Word of God.  Maybe not every 15 minutes, but at least every day.  Without this replenishment, the mind begins to think more and more about worldly things until finally the lamp goes out.  Our minds might remember 10% of what it read a year ago.  Without replenishment, our faith and enthusiasm disappears just as the light on the torches.
     The parable shows that the bridegrooms absence was longer than expected. Those who understood the parable would see this.  Even in New Testament times many thought the kingdom would come in their day.  We are told that because the bridegroom tarried, the virgins slumbered and slept.  The foolish virgins told the wise to give them of their oil but this was not possible to do at the last minute.  During Christ's long absence many have set out in life and prepared their lamps to meet the Master, but have fallen asleep, to await the resurrection.  One could understand how someone in Christ's day would have had a difficult time understanding this parable.  The kingdom would have been a mystery to those who did not make an effort to understand what Jesus taught.


Jesus gave us two parables that described how we would be rewarded in the kingdom for our efforts in life.  Some claim this is a discrepancy because of the differences.  However, there is no reason why Jesus wouldn't vary his parables occasionally.  Later we will see that there may be a good explanation for this.
     We read in Matthew 25:14-29, "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two and to another one; to every man according to his ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.  And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.  But he that had received one went and dug in the earth, and hid his lord's money.  After a long time the lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them.  And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliverdst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou ento the joy of the lord.  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents, behold I have gained two other talents beside them.  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord.  Then he which had received the one talent came and said, lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou has not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou newest that I reap where I sowed not, and gathered where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchanges, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.  For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.


We read the second parable in Luke 19:15-26, "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 newest 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."
     The parables of the pounds and the talents were spoken on two separate occasions, and in two different forms.  The first occurred when Jesus was in Jericho on the way to Jerusalem for the last time as recorded in Luke.  The next occurred after his arrival in Jerusalem and his presence there for some days as recorded in Matthew.  On the first occasion, he employed "pounds" as the subject of trust; on the second "talents".  The number of talents and pounds varies as well as the rewards given.  It is possible that Jesus was just emphasizing two different points in each parable.
     In the parable of the talents in Matthew he is emphasizing the fact that a person with less talents who still doubles those talents is equal with those who start with more and double those.  The servant that had five talents gained five additional talents.  The servant with two gained two.  The man's response was identical to both.  "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord."  Jesus may be emphasizing that the person with less ability who makes the same effort will receive the same reward as the person with more ability.  Those who have greater talents should not look down on those with less.  Talents for the most part are something we are born with.  It is how we develop and use what talents we have is what is important.  We must be careful how we judge others who have less ability to learn for example.  As long as that person makes the same effort with what ability he has, he will be rewarded the same.
     The parable in Luke emphasizes that a person making the greater effort will receive the greater reward.  The individual who turned one pound into ten received a reward of ten cities.  The person who turned one pound into five received a reward of five cities.  So it seems that Jesus wanted to make both points.  If you make more of an effort you will see a greater reward.  However, we will also be judged based on what abilities we have.  Someone with less ability only needs to put forth the same effort.


In conclusion, we have discussed the reasons Jesus used parables and gave some examples.  The lesson we should get from the parables is that we must also have a desire to find the true meaning behind what is taught in the scriptures.  We are no different that those in Christ's day.  God's Word has hid the teachings about the kingdom and many other subjects from many Christians today who don't take the time or make the effort to search for the truth.  To an unbeliever the Bible is just a collection of mythological stories because they don't take the time to study the prophesies and the depth of Christ's teachings to see that there is more to the Bible than that.  The stongest believers are those who make the most effort to study.

David Thomas Jr.