The Study of Last Things
by James T. Bartsch
Learning about the Future to Live Better Today
"And he said to him, 'Well done, good slave. Because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.'" (Luke 19:17)
(1) This parable follows on the heels of Jesus’ public inviting of Himself to the home of Zaccheus, a wealthy chief tax collector (Luke 19:1-10). Zaccheus gladly received Jesus (Luke 19:6). Bystanders all began to grumble that Jesus had gone to be the guest of a man who was a sinner (Luke 19:7). Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give him back four times as much” (Luke 19:8). Whereupon Jesus pronounced, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a [true] son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:9-10).
(2) The Parable of the Ten Slaves Given Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27) may have been given to those in attendance at Zaccheus’ impromptu dinner. If that is the case, those who were listening were likely believers, sympathetic to Jesus and his ministry to the “sinners” of Jewish society. Certainly, this parable was designed to inform those listening that their presumption of the timing of the Kingdom of God was misinformed. His listeners thought Jesus was going to Jerusalem to be crowned King of Israel there immediately (Luke 19:11). This parable would inform them that, though they were correct about the nature of the Kingdom, they were incorrect about the timing of its appearance.
(3) The purpose of Jesus’ parable, that the Kingdom of God was not going to appear any time soon, is overwhelming evidence that Amillennialism is a faulty interpretation of Scripture. This brand of theology teaches that we are in the Kingdom now, that it began at Christ’s ascension to heaven. In their view, Christ is now sitting on the throne of David, and this present Church Age is the spiritual kingdom over which Christ reigns. In the Amillennial view, Christ will not return literally, personally, and visibly to reign here upon earth for a thousand years. That view cannot be true. This parable teaches that Christ went to a distant country to receive His Kingdom, and that when He has received His Kingdom, then He will return to earth to begin His rule upon earth (Luke 19:12). See also the sequence laid out in Rev. 19:11-20:6.
(4) The subject of this parable is called a nobleman (eugenḗs, 2104, “well-born, of a noble family”) (Luke 19:12). He represents Jesus Christ, of course. He went to a distant country (heaven). His purpose was to receive a Kingdom for himself, then return (Luke 19:12). Since He has not returned, He as not yet received His Kingdom. He is presently sitting at the right hand of the Father, waiting until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet (Psa. 110:1). But He is not idle. He is presently serving as Priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Psa. 110:4; Heb. 7:24-25).
(5) The man of noble birth called ten of his slaves. He had more, but He called ten. He gave each of them a mina, so that ten minas were distributed among the ten slaves. A mina was a fairly large sum of money, equivalent to three months’ worth of work. He instructed his slaves to do business with their allotment until he returned (Luke 19:13). These slaves were men he believed he could trust. They represented Israelis who professed to believe in Jesus.
(6) Unfortunately, the nobleman’s citizens, the nation of Israel as a whole, hated him. They sent a delegation after him, saying, “We don’t want this man to reign over us!” (Luke 19:14).
(7) When he returned, having received his Kingdom, he called the ten slaves to give an account of their investment of his money (Luke 19:15). This refers to the judgment of Israel at Christ’s return after the Tribulation.
(8) The first slave reported, “Master, your mina has made ten minas more” (Luke 19:16). To him the Master replied, “Well done, good slave. Because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are granted authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17). This faithful slave would be serve as mayor or administrator over a region of ten cities in Christ’s Kingdom here upon earth.
(9) The second slave reported that his mina had made five minas. The nobleman replied that he was to be mayor over five cities (Luke 19:18-19). Likewise, at Christ’s return, he will grant this faithful slave authority over a region of five cities. He would be a mayor or administrator in Christ’s Kingdom.
(10) A third slave had a different perspective on the Master. He didn’t trust Him, and was afraid of Him. He called the Master an exacting man, taking up what He did not lay down, and reaping what He had not sown. So he had hidden the mina away (Luke 19:20-21). The Master judged him with his own words, calling him a worthless slave. The slave should at least have put his mina in a bank to earn interest (Luke 19:22-23).
(11) The Master told the bystanders to take the mina from the worthless slave and give it to one who had ten minas. The bystanders replied that he already had ten minas! But the Master replied, “To everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him” (Luke 19:24-26).
(12) In this parable, we are not told the destiny of the worthless slave. But we are told the destiny of the citizens who hated the nobleman and expressed their unwillingness to have him be their King (Luke 19:14). He announced, “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence” (Luke 19:27)!
(13) Conclusion. The Nobleman represents Jesus Christ, who would leave Israel and go to a far country (heaven) to receive His Kingdom. He has been waiting and so have his followers, nearly 2000 years now. The slaves who invested their money represent believing Israelis, those who were attempting to serve the King faithfully in His absence. The slave who did not invest appears to be a disbelieving Israeli who, on the outside, would have appeared no different than the believing slaves. In this parable, the Nobleman returns. He represents Christ, who will have been given His Kingdom up in heaven, and now returns to earth to rule in person from Jerusalem. When He returns at the end of the Tribulation, He will judge Israelis. Those Israelis who have faithfully served the King in His absence will be granted authority to rule in a much larger, political sphere than in the merely financial arena in which they had been operating. The Israelis who despised the King and did not want Him to rule over them will be put to death at the judgment. They will not be permitted to enter His Kingdom.
(14) Application for the Church. This parable does not directly speak to the Church. But principles apply here. The Church will return to earth with Christ at His Second Coming. We will serve as His Bride (Rev. 19:7-9). But I believe we will be given places of authority in His Kingdom commensurate with the faithfulness with which we have served Him in this life. Personally, I want to serve the King-in-Waiting as faithfully as I can in this life so that I can serve Him with maximum potential in His coming Kingdom.
(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB 1995.)
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Updated April 9, 2021