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Acts 1 and the Parable of the Pounds

The parable of the pounds is not found in Acts but is in Luke 19:14-27. However, it tells of events that relate to the history recorded in Acts 1. The parable tells of a certain nobleman who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then to return. He called for ten of his servants, giving each of them a pound and commanding, “Trade herewith until I return”. His citizens hated him and sent an ambassage after him saying, “We will not that this man rule over us”. After a long time, having received his kingdom, he returned and made a reckoning with his servants. He dealt with those he had given a pound, telling of the dealings of three, then he called for those citizens who hated him and had them killed. And so, the parable ends.

The parable has many similarities to the better-known parable referred to as the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25. Both parables have the same three amounts that the servants gained — one gained five, the second two, and the third had buried his talent (Luke 19:16-23; Matthew 25:20-27). But, there are differences. In the parable of the talents, different sums were given to different servants; in the parable of the pounds each servant received the same amount. So, while there are similarities, the parables are not the same. They are two different parables designed, perhaps, to teach different truths.

The parable of the pounds has many significant lessons.

  • First, it teaches a certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return (Luke 19:12). That certain nobleman portrays Christ and the “far country” is heaven. He went into that “far country” to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.
  • Second, the nobleman gave to each of His servants a pound and they were commanded to trade with it until he returned (Luke 19:13). Christ gives to each of us our “pound” and expects us to show Him an increase when He returns.
  • Third, the nobleman’s citizens hated him and sent an ambassage after him saying, “We will not that this man rule over us” (Luke 19:14). The parable distinguishes between “servants” and “citizens”. The “servants” are those who accept Christ’s rule and become His servants; the “citizens” are those also under His rule but rebel against His authority. Whoever the man may be, whatever he may believe or disbelieve, he was made by God and has an obligation to live by the laws that Creator has given. In that sense he is a “citizen”.
  • Fourth, the nobleman returned, having received the kingdom. Jesus went away to receive His kingdom (which He did receive, Daniel 7:13-14) and will return, which both He and the angels promised He would do (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11).
  • Fifth, when the nobleman returned, he made a reckoning with his servants (Luke 19:15-26). When Christ returns, He will make a reckoning with His servants (Matt. 25:31-46).
  • Sixth, some of the nobleman’s servants were faithful and had gained other pounds in their trading and were blessed. Some of the nobleman’s servants were slothful and showed no increase at all and lost what they had had. Some of Christ’s servants are faithful and in the final day will be rewarded for their faithfulness; some of Christ’s servants are neglectful and will be cursed rather than blessed.
  • Seventh, the nobleman then called for his citizens who “hated” him and would not accept his rule over them and he destroyed them. In Christ’s judgment, He will judge those who refuse to become His children, who rebel against His laws and live exactly opposite to what Christ requires of all men. Such will also be destroyed.

The parable relates to Acts 1 and to the ascension of Jesus to heaven. Heaven is pictured in the parable as a “far country” — a fitting description of the dwelling place of God. It is in Acts 1 that we see the nobleman (Christ) going into that far country. But once more the parable has significance: The nobleman went into that far country to “receive a kingdom” and Jesus went to heaven that He would receive a kingdom. When Jesus returned to heaven, He was brought before the Ancient of Days (the Father) and received a kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14). Paul said, “Wherefore also God highly exalted him and gave unto him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven, things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). It was of this of which Peter spoke when he told people on Pentecost, “Wherefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified” (Acts 2:26). It was then the prophecy was fulfilled which David wrote, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand until I make all thine enemies the footstool of thy feet” (Psalm 110:1). After a long time, after the nobleman received the kingdom, he returned to reckon with his servants. After a long time, Christ, having received His kingdom, will return and make a reckoning with His servants.

There is a significant truth which must not be overlooked. The nobleman did not return to receive a kingdom; he had already received that. He returned to reckon with his servants and reward those faithful and punish those who were not. When Christ returns, it will not be to receive a kingdom. He received His kingdom when he returned to heaven. When Christ returns it will be to make a final reckoning with His servants and give to each a reward (Matthew 25:31-46).

To those who teach that Christ will shortly come to set up an earthly kingdom we ask this question: Where is the Bible verse that says that Christ will return to earth to set up a kingdom? In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians he wrote the following: “And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord from heaven in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints …” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). Paul told us that at the “revelation of the Lord” — His second coming — He will render vengeance to the evil doer and reward His faithful. Let us all prepare to be ready when He does come.

Jim McDonald

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