This is the well-known “Parable of the Talents” (verses 14-30) that teaches us how there are people who profess to be “SERVANTS of Christ” during His absence but once He returns Jesus will reveal the “true servants” and the “false servants.” The true servants will serve the Lord Jesus as good stewards, using the various gifts (spiritual gifts and natural abilities) He has given them for His honor and glory. They will be amply rewarded for doing so and they will hear the Lord say these blessed words to them: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (verse 21). The false servants do not serve the Lord Jesus. They profess to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but they really don’t know Him and thus they don’t serve Him. This is obvious by what we read in verses 24-25, “Then he who had received one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I know you to be a HARD MAN, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I WAS AFRAID, and wend and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.” Those who truly “know the Lord” know that He is a gracious and loving God, and thus they serve Him out of love, but the “false professor/servant” thinks God is not gracious and loving, but a cruel God. This leads them to “do nothing for the Lord” and to be “afraid of Him.” Again, those who truly know the Lord and His love for them love to serve Him, as we see in 2nd Corinthians 5:14-15, “For the LOVE OF CHRIST CONTROLS US, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (NASB). They are NOT AFRAID of Him, for His love has removed any fear as we see in 1st John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.”

In verse 26 the Lord says this to the false servant, “You WICKED and LAZY SERVANT” and then He rebukes them for not serving Him while He was away (see verses 27-29). Then we read those solemn words, “And cast the unprofitable servant into the OUTER DARKNESS. There will be WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH” (verse 30). He not only misses out on a reward for serving the Lord Jesus, but he is cast into outer darkness. This is the ETERNAL DESTINY of all who have not believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. This is indeed HELL, which is also called “the lake of fire.” We read of this sobering truth in Revelation 20:15, “And anyone who was not found in the Book of Life was CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE.”

In our passage it is called “outer darkness” and I believe this is to be taken literally. In Matthew 8:28 Jesus spoke of this same thing: “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into OUTER DARKNESS. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Here too it speaks of those who had “professed to believe on Christ” but it was a “false profession” and their unbelief will result in ETERNAL DARKNESS.” Jesus told another parable to illustrate true and false professors in Matthew 22:1-14 and in verse 13 we read of the unbeliever, “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into OUTER DARKNESS; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” All three parables tell the same story; a mere professor of Christ will be cast into outer darkness for all eternity! In the book of Jude, they are likened unto “wandering stars for whom is reserved the BLACKNESS OF DARKNESS FOREVER.” Could words be more solemn? I think not!

In closing, some believe the LAKE OF FIRE is to be taken literally too, but since FIRE and DARKNESS can’t coexist, I believe the word “fire” is a SYMBOL of God’s JUDGMENT, a judgment that will never be quenched (see Mark 9:43-44 with John 3:36).  (DO)  (532.3)