Origens Commentary On The Gospel Of Matthew by Origen
12. The Time of the Reckoning.
But it is fitting to examine at what time the man -- the king -- in the parable wished to make a reckoning with his own servants, and to what period we ought to refer the things that are said. For if it be after the consummation, or at it at the time of the expected judgment, how are we to maintain the things about him who owed a hundred pence, and was taken by the throat by the man who had been forgiven the many talents? But if, before the judgment, how can we explain the reckoning that was made before this by the king, with his own servants? But we ought to think in a general way about every parable, the interpretation of which has not been recorded by the evangelists, even though Jesus explained all things to His own disciples privately; and for this reason the writers of the Gospels have concealed the clear exposition of the parables, because the things signified by them were beyond the power of the nature of words to express, and every solution and exposition of such parables was of such a kind that not even the whole world itself could contain the books that should be written in relation to such parables. But it may happen that a fitting heart be found, and, because of its purity, able to receive the letters of the exposition of the parable, so that they could be written in it by the Spirit of the living God. But some one will say that, perhaps, we act with impiety, who, because of the secret and mystical import of some of the Scriptures which are of heavenly origin, wish them to be symbolic, and endeavour to expound them, even though it might seem ex hypothesi that we had an accurate knowledge of their meaning. But to this we must say that, if there be those who have obtained the gift of accurate apprehension of these things, they know what they ought to do; but as for us, who acknowledge that we fall short of the ability to see into the depth of the things here signified, even though we obtain a somewhat crass perception of the things in the passage, we will say, that some of the things which we seem to find after much examination and inquiry, whether by the grace of God, or by the power of our own mind, we do not venture to commit to writing; but some things, for the sake of our own intellectual discipline, and that of those who may chance to read them, we will to some extent set forth. But let these things, then, be said by way of apology, because of the depth of the parable; but, with regard to the question at what time the man -- the king -- in the parable wished to make a reckoning with his own servants, we will say that it seems that this takes place about the time of the judgment which had been proclaimed. And this is confirmed by two parables, one at the close of the Gospel before us, and one from the Gospel according to Luke. And not to prolong the discussion by quoting the very letter, as any one who wishes can take it from the Scripture himself, we will say that the parable according to Matthew declares, |For it is as when a man going into another country called his own servants, and delivered unto them his own goods, and to one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one talent;| then they took action with regard to that which had been entrusted to them, and, after a long time, the lord of those servants cometh, and it is written in the very words, that he also makes a reckoning with them. And compare the words, |And when he began to make a reckoning,| and consider that he called the going of the householder into another country the time at which |we are at home in the body but absent from the Lord;| but his advent, when, |after a long time the lord of those servants cometh,| the time at the consummation in the judgment; for after a long time the lord of those servants cometh and makes a reckoning with them, and those things which follow take place. But the parable in Luke represents with more clearness, that |a certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return,| and when going, |he called ten servants, and gave to them ten pounds, and said unto them, Trade ye till I come.| But the nobleman, being hated by his own citizens, who sent an ambassage after him, as they did not wish him to reign over them, came back again, having received the kingdom, and told the servants to whom he had given the money to be called to himself that he might know what they had gained by trading. And, seeing what they had done, to him who had made the one pound ten pounds, rendering praise in the words, |Well done, thou good servant, because thou wast found faithful in a very little,| he gives to him authority over ten cities, to-wit, those which were under his kingdom. And to another, who had multiplied the pound fivefold, he did not render the praise which he assigned to the first, nor did he specify the word |authority,| as in the case of the first, but said to him, |Be thou also over five cities.| But to him who had tied up the pound in a napkin, he said, |Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant;| and he said to them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it unto him that hath the ten pounds. Who, then, in regard to this parable, will not say that the nobleman, who goes into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return, is Christ, going, as it were, into another country to receive the kingdoms of this world, and the things in it? And those who have received the ten talents are those who have been entrusted with the dispensation of the Word which has been committed unto them. And His citizens who did not wish Him to reign over them when He was a citizen in the world in respect of His incarnation, are perhaps Israel who disbelieved Him, and perhaps also the Gentiles who disbelieved Him.