The Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-27)


Jesus told two parables about servants entrusted with money; the parable of the talents and the parable of the minas.

In both stories a nobleman goes on a journey (okay, so we know it’s Jesus), and before he leaves he entrusts his servants with his wealth. In both stories the man returns and promotes those who have got a good return on their investment. And in both stories there’s one displeasing servant who does nothing and who loses what he has been given.

 Parable of the Talents  Parable of the Minas
 Where?  Matthew 25  Luke 19
 How many servants?  3  10
 Servants given what? 1, 2 and 5 talents  1 mina each
 Rewards? identical proportional (cities)

The two stories are similar, but different. The parable of the minas differs in that the faithful servants are rewarded in proportion to their gains. The servant who turned one mina into ten is rewarded with ten cities, while the servant who turned one mina into five gets five cities. Here’s the punchline to both parables:

To everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. (Luke 19:26, see also Matt 25:29)

What does this mean?

“Jesus is saying there are rewards for our hard work,” says the preacher of works. “Serve the Lord faithfully on earth and he will make you a mayor in heaven.”

Needless to say, this works-centric interpretation does not sit well with grace folk. “Everything comes to us by grace, not works. Jesus is our only reward.”

Yet Jesus spoke about storing up treasure in heaven and the apostle of grace said we would be rewarded for our labor (1 Cor 3:8). So which is it? Grace? Works? Grace plus works?

Heavenly rewards

There is such a thing as a heavenly reward but it’s not money, mansions, nor mayoral offices. It’s people. People are the most valuable things on earth and, unlike gold, you can take them with you.

These parables aren’t about investing in money but people. “He who has will be given more” is a reference to spiritual offspring. It is describing the dividends of love.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

Jesus is saying, “If you freely give what you have freely received (love and grace), it will come back to you, multiplied exponentially.”

Live for Jesus and his gospel and your spiritual family will grow and keep growing after you’ve gone.

When you put grace to work (by investing in the lives of others), grace grows. It produces seed-bearing fruit that later produces fruit of its own. Children have grandchildren and they have great-grandchildren and so on and so on.

In this life you may never see the full harvest of your generosity. But one day you will and on that day you will share in your master’s happiness.

What about the cities?

A mina is not a lot of money. The King James translates it as one British pound. Chump change, in other words. So one servant is given a mina but ends up with ten cities:

“Well done, my good servant!” his master replied. “Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” (Luke 19:17)

Ten cities?! This is a stunning reward. It’s totally over the top and out of all proportion to the effort expended. And the amazing thing is the servant hasn’t actually done anything other than put the gift to work.

Jesus is saying, “Some of you are going to be surprised when you see the impact you have had on others. You have no idea many people your life has touched.”

Paul’s offspring

Paul told the Thessalonian Christians that they were his crown and joy:

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? (1 Thess 2:19)

Paul was saying, “You guys are my kids, my spiritual offspring. I’m going to know you and enjoy your company for all eternity.”

Yet the Bible also says that the children of one’s children are a crown to the aged (Proverbs 17:6). So Paul’s crown or reward is not just the Thessalonians he personally led to Christ (20 people? 50?), but everyone they led, and so on all the way down the family tree.

How many people do you think have been blessed by Paul’s message of grace over the centuries?

It must be millions, if not hundreds of millions of people. One day people like you and me will line up to thank Paul for putting his grace-mina to work. And what a long line that will be!

The fertile seed of grace

There were times when Paul was afraid to tell people the good news (Acts 18:9), and he knew what it was like to have friends desert him. When he walked this earth he had no idea just how much impact his ministry would have. I can’t wait to see the look on Paul’s face!

Do you see how the good seed of the gospel bears much fruit and continues bearing fruit even after we’ve gone? Truly, the word of grace is potent and fruitful.

Imagine if Paul had buried what God had given him. Instead of travelling the Mediterranean preaching the gospel he focused on tent-making. There is nothing wrong with tent-making. If you are a tent-maker, be the best tent-maker you can be. Make tents for Jesus.

But if all you do is make tents and never pass along the grace that you have been given, don’t expect to be greeted by a city full of thankful offspring.

Don’t bury the gift. Put God’s grace to work and see the awesome harvest it will bring!


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29 Comments on The Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-27)

  1. thanks paul ,grace really does release religous pressure

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. It is amazing and should be read by all. it stops confusion. really nice to read and Amen to all of that.

  3. writing this with a lot of tears in my eyes… Reading this revelation ..have freed me from a lot of fear..and has unleashed the inner lover of people like Jesus in me.

    I have been mislead for so many years that these parables have been about money.. it bought at lot of confusion and with it alot of frustration and bitterness at myself not measuring up..

    Thank you Brother Paul. God richly bless you

  4. Ian Black // May 28, 2015 at 2:36 am // Reply

    … doesn’t the key phrase <> suggest these rewards are NOW, in which case the rewards of Grace are NOW (as well as in the future). One of the hallmarks of religion as I see it is always making excuses for a current “lack”.

  5. Thank you Paul for this explanation, I have never seen this passage in this light. However please give me some light about the parables of the ten virgins. God bless you richly.

    • The holy spirit cannot be bought, it is freely given, those that had no oil are told to go to those that sell oil.those that had oil, had it in their vessels, we know what is the vessel of the holy spirit, he lives in the believer.those that are told to go to those that sell oil, probably only knew of this oil that is sold, unfortunately this is counterfeit oil, it is not the indwelling holy spirit, that never leaves the believer.The spirit of truth, that lights the way.

  6. Joy Brothers // May 28, 2015 at 3:05 am // Reply

    Paul, thanks so much for the best teaching I never heard in a church! Love it.

  7. Wonderful post on Grace, Paul. Grace and Love are truly the only things we have in this life, they cannot be taken from us only given. And unlike the things of this world, the more we give them the more we have. Learning to live in the abundance of Grace and Love, instead of the scarcity of this world is one of the harder lessons to learn.

  8. That’s so cool and encouraging! I’ve never seen this parable in that light. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    I’m sure you’ve blessed a lot of people you don’t know about too, Paul! I got really radically impacted when I found this site 2-3 years ago. I was down the path of self-righteousness and the law. At the same time, I had an addiction to pornography, and I didn’t manage to quit no matter how hard I tried (by my own strength), so I had this extreme, ever-increasing sense of guilt. Then, one day, by accident (or not-so-accident…), I found this site, and heard the pure gospel of grace for the first time. It just changed everything. Realising that Jesus is not out to put a heavy joke on me, and that there isn’t even 1% bad news in the gospel. I’ve gone on to listen to other people like Joseph Prince, Bill Johnson, Andrew Wommack, Darren Wilson and so on since. But I still think of the moment when I found this blog as the #1 most important moment in my life as of yet. I’m sure there are many other too, who have been blessed by you, but haven’t told you yet. Keep up the good work, bro!

  9. Well thanks I have never seen it in that light

  10. Agus Rianto // May 28, 2015 at 3:23 pm // Reply

    thanks for the insight that you share…I am bless…however I have a question that i would like to know more about these two parables…both Mat 25: 30 and Luke 19:27 wrote that the master was angry since the servant did not gain anything for the master..he even told to cast the unprofitable servant into the do you see that?..are we going to face an angry God one day if we don’t invest in people? this case sharing the grace to others?

    • In Christ, you are unpunishable. There is no condemnation. However, Jesus said condemnation abides on those who refuse grace. If you reject life, you won’t have it. More here.

  11. redeemed4everr // May 28, 2015 at 7:42 pm // Reply

    Thank you so much! So blessed! Grace is indeed so liberating. All glory to Jesus. God bless U Sir for sharing! 🙂

  12. Thanx Paul… the chains are falling off and many are walking free… IT IS FOR FREEDOM!!

    This website has become my hourly place of visit since I discovered it last year December through a friend in Kenya! my daily dose thru which ave learnt so much in those few months compared to 10+ years in salvation!!

  13. Kimberly Wenzel // June 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm // Reply

    This was great, and heart inspiring and touching!

  14. After we’re done thanking Paul, the Apostle, we’ll form another very very long line and thank you, Paul Ellis!

  15. Dear Paul, you have been a tremendous blessing to me and my family keep it up sir. From Nigeria.

  16. Very interesting. What about people who are introverts? Some people like to have a lot of friends to hang out with while others prefer to have maybe one or two friends.

  17. Whenever I hear grace preachers teach on this, I never see them deal with the unfaithful servant. They always seem to stop short.

    The unfaithful servant is put out into the place of “outer darkness” with “weeping and gnashing of teeth” if I’m not mistaken, which I can only assume refers to hell because, if I recall correctly, it’s the same place where the evil vinedressers, as well as the evil servant who mistreats the other servants while the master is away end up.

    More than this it just doesn’t seem to line up with the picture of the father from the prodigal son. The prodigal son wasted everything and the father did not give him as much as a rebuke. Could you share your thoughts on this one.

    • I have quite a lot to say about the unfaithful servant, but I didn’t say it here. I have written a series of stories on this and the other parables of judgment where I talk about him. These stills may find there way onto E2R in one form or another later this year. Stay tuned.

  18. I my opinion this parable is not directed at believers at all. The nobleman is indeed the Lord Jesus but the servants are those instructed to guide the people ie the scribes and Pharisees etc. note that the last servant is called wicked. The citizens who hated the nobleman are the Jewish nation who reject him. Those religious leaders who deal faithfully with the commission from the Lord will receive more revelation of Christ and assigned greater service. Those who see Christ as harsh and reject His grace will find even the little light they have become darkness.

  19. Paul, I saw a post about The Parable of the Talents come through Facebook about a month ago and when I started reading it, I had to put it away and ruminate on it for a bit. This has been a question that has plagued me for years. Two things about that parable really cause me to question God’s goodness. May I grapple out loud here in this? First, WHY were the servants given unequal portions? Second, the return in both the two servants who invested was the same, the REWARD was not. The worthless servant’s talent was given to the servant who had the greatest gain. Here’s the rub: he only had the highest amount of talents because he was given more! Then rewarded for it over the second servant who’s investment yielded the same portion of the gain. That seems so unfair. In your table above, you state the rewards are identical in the parable of the talents, yet I have trouble seeing it that way. Could you help me see what I am missing here? I so want to understand! Thank you!

    • Hi Ali, feel free to grapple away! These two parables have been used for all sorts of purposes over the centuries precisely because they are so puzzling. As it happens, I have just finished writing a verse-by-verse commentary on the two of them, so they are fresh in my mind. (1) Why were the servants given unequal portions? Jesus tells us in Matt 25:15. They were given according to their abilities. And no, that doesn’t seem fair since our abilities are gifts themselves. For instance, why did God give me a great passion for basketball but make me short and slow. This is a question I plan to ask him one day. (2) The reward for the two faithful servants is the same: “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things.” (3) The first servant in both parables gets more but only in the parable of the talents does he start with more. In the minas they all start equally. This is one of the things I like about these two parables. Just when you think you have something figured out – he got more because he worked harder – Jesus throws a curve ball to undo your logic.

      Obviously there is much more to say about both parables, and I hope you will enjoy my commentary when I get around to finishing the whole thing.

    • Jacqueline Baldwin // May 24, 2021 at 12:04 pm // Reply

      Could it be that the master in this parable is the god of this world and not Jesus? The master in the story just cares about money and rewards those who also care about money but the servant who was satisfied and did not exact usury is punished. That is how Christians can expect to be treated in this world. The master went into the “far country,” which is life apart from God. This parable follows the story about Zacchaeus, who became rich by robbing and stealing from the poor but then after meeting Jesus he gains back his honor by giving away his money. 27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.,This is what will happen to Jesus Himself and those who follow Him when they stand up to the god of this age because “they do not want (him) to rule over them” (Luke 19:27). When he arrives in Jerusalem, one of the first things Jesus does is clear the temple of those who were using it to enrich themselves by stealing from the poor (Luke 19:45-48). As a result, the wicked “servants” of the temple seek to destroy Jesus (Luke 19:47). Later Jesus went to Jerusalem and cleansed the temple of the money lenders who exacted usury on the poor which helped to incite the servants of the god of this age. This was mostly taken from the Redeeming God website.

  20. Interesting… I’m a pastor and own a business. This year has been my best yet and I’ve hired 10 people. I’ve had thoughts that I was being frivolous with my money and should save it but the Holy Spirit confirmed “this is the way, walk in it.” I cried out, but God, shouldn’t I be wise and save?” He replied, “there is a time for saving but it is not now.” I asked but what about the talents you have given me?!” I haven’t multiplied them (I was thinking this was a parable about investing).

    He replied, “You have multiplied my son. Look at all the families under grace and snatched out of the jaws of poverty by you listening to me and sowing into them.”

    It was then that I understood. I never heard the parable explained this way from a human until today when I ran across your blog for probably the 4th time in the last year.

    God bless you Paul.

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