The parable of the pounds was given because “they supposed that the kingdom of God immediately to appear” (Lk. 19:11). Luke alone records this parable and it is much like the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). But while there are similarities, there are also points of difference and other details in the parable of the pounds not found in the parable of the talents. It is these latter two items most attention will be given to in this article.
The parable tells of a nobleman who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. He called ten servants to him and gave each a pound: a coin worth about 16 cents. These servants were to trade with the pound until the nobleman returned. The citizens of the nobleman hated him and sent an embassage after him saying, “We will not that this man reign over us.” After he had received the kingdom he returned and made a reckoning with his servants. One servant had traded and multiplied his pound to ten. His master commended him and gave him authority over ten cities. A second had gained five and he was given authority over five cities. A third came but had no increase to show his master. He said he had laid up his pound in a napkin and saved it because he “feared” his master, charging his master with being an “austere man, taking up that which thou laid not down, and reaping that thou didst not sow” (Lk. 19:21). His pound was taken from him and given to the one who had ten. When some seemed to object that that one already had ten, the Lord said, “I say unto you, that unto everyone that hath shall be given, but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken from him” (Lk. 19:26). The parable concluded by saying “but these mine enemies that would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me” (Lk. 19:27). The preceding narrative is a summary of the parable, found in its entirety in Luke 19:11-27.
Consider the similarities between the parable of talents and the parable of the pounds. Each tells of three servants with whom their Lord made a reckoning. Of the three, two servants used what was given him and increased it. They were blessed for their faithfulness. A third failed to use what was given him and excused his failure on his fear of his Lord, whom he charged with being a hard master who took advantage of others. He was punished for his disobedience.
Look now at the differences. The parable of the talents speaks of only three servants to whom the Master gave talents. In the parable of the pounds there were ten servants who received pounds, but the parable tells of the master’s dealing with only three of them. In the parable of the talents, the three received different amounts (five, two, and one talent) while in the parable of the pounds each of the ten servants received the same amount, to each one pound. In the parable of the pounds, the one who gained ten pounds was made ruler of ten cities and he who gained five was made ruler over five cities. In the parable of the talents both servants were commended: “Well done thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of the Lord” (Mt. 25:20, 23). Many lessons can be derived from both parables but one lesson is true in both: God does not expect the same increase from each servant. All have different abilities. Still, whether we yield 100%, 60%, or 30% God is pleased when we do what our ability allows us. On the other hand, lesser ability does not lessen our responsibility to use what we have.
In addition to these noted differences, there are additional valuable lessons to learn. In the parable of the pounds the nobleman went into a far country to receive a kingdom (Lk. 19:12). When he had received his kingdom he returned to make a reckoning with his servants. The nobleman who went to receive for himself a kingdom is Jesus. The far country into which He went is heaven. It is marvelous that 550-600 years before Jesus was born, Daniel said, “I saw in the night visions and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him, dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14). Jesus will not return to set up a kingdom: He went to heaven to receive that kingdom. When He returns it will not be to rule 1,000 years on earth, it will be to make a reckoning with His servants — to judge them (Lk. 19:15). David spoke of this same ascension of Jesus when he wrote, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand till I make all thy enemies the footstool of thy feet” (Psa. 110:1). David did not say when the Lord would say “Sit thou at my right hand” and the passage, written in past tense, seems to imply it was something done in the past. David spoke of a future time but wrote in the past tense, not because it was an accomplished fact, but because God had decreed it and if God decreed it, it would take place. Isaiah wrote in the same manner when he wrote of the suffering Savior who was yet to come. He spoke of Him who was to come as though he had come already. We know David’s words were future (though spoken in past tense) because Peter quoted those words on Pentecost (1,000 years later) and said the events people witnessed that day were fulfillment of what David had written in Psalm 110:1; the commencement of the reign of Christ (Acts 2:33-36).
There is one more thought to note. When the nobleman went into a far country, his citizens hated him and sent an embassage after him saying, “We will not that this man reign over us” (Lk. 19:14). We must remember that the “citizens who hated him” were not solely those who had been born again, but who became apostates to their faith; the “citizens” included all mankind. Daniel said Jesus received a kingdom “that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.” Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 17:14). He has all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18) and although the vast majority of the world may reject His rule, He still rules the world and all are amenable to His laws whether they obey them or not. Someday every knee will bow to Christ and every tongue will confess to God (Phil. 2:10). But bowing and confessing at the last day will be to no avail if that one lived and died a rebel and hater of Him who is the Ruler of the kings of the earth.
The parable of the pounds teaches many of the same lessons found in the parable of the talents, plus other wonderful and significant truths. Many are the things of the kingdom Christ set forth in this parable of the pounds.