Interpreting the Parables

We’ll take up “The Parable of the Minas” of Luke 19:11-27 (NKJV). The NKJV pericope focuses on the monetary unit. However, the New Living Translation’s title is “The Parable of the King’s Ten Servants.” This focuses on the servants. We should take the two ideas together as we study the parable.

Repeatedly we say that in the interpretation of parables we should struggle to determine the central idea, the main principle, and apply it in our life. Also determine the accidentals that should not be given formal correspondence in life. To give meaning to the accidentals would miss the teaching of the parable.

The items in the parable are: a noble man, far country, kingdom, citizens, delegation, refusal of citizens to be governed by this noble man, ten servants who were all given a mina each, ten cities, five cities, handkerchief, kill those who reject the rule of the king, servants who were ordered to kill the insulting subjects, minas, one servant who hid the mina, nine servants who earned profits, trading, austere man, collect what he didn’t deposit, reap what he did not sow.

Central idea is this: God has given or loaned us resources and opportunities in this life which should be employed to earn profits that will make the noble man (Christ) happy and glorified. But in the use of these resources and opportunities, other commands and limitations somewhere else given should be observed like “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.” Also consider the basic limitation of church work which are Evangelism, Edification and Benevolence.

One aggressive business man-church leader in Baguio who has not earned a semester’s work in a seminary and neither is he known for his theological knowledge put emphasis on the terms “trading” and “profit” attaching monetary values and commercial principles adding also the principle of “stewardship.”This aggressive business man-church leader led other leaders including Bible College graduates and Bible College instructors in forming a secular, educational corporation. They disregarded a usufruct which allowed a Bible College to operate in a church property, drove out the Bible College and leased part of a big building to the business minded church leader for his secular-commercial project . All along he was absorbed in his monetary profit which he said would be plowed back to church work.

The problem with the business man-church leader is that he missed the spiritual aspect of the central idea. Earn profit, trading, deposit, interest, stewardship were monetized. He claimed freedom to operate his business as free as he does in their family operated vocational school. He didn’t know that in the Bible College which he did not attend we keep on pounding that there are three areas where church work operates: Evangelism, Edification and Benevolence. He added commercial business. Other items that should be considered accidentals in their literal sense are: ten – there are not only ten servants; all servants are given same amount of money; handkerchief—bad to wrap money with kerchief; the proportion of nine faithful servants to one unfaithful, kill people who don’t respect the king, kill etc.

I ask church leaders, elders, preachers to balance their interpretation of the parables of the Lord.