In the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of the NICNT-Matthew reference the commentary mentions these things:I have tried to find it in all the POSTS on this topic, but have we / someone come to a conclusion what Jesus actually meant when He uses 'the talent' in HIs parable? I might have missed it so, sorry if it is in there.
Several points brought out were that:But does it give any further clue as to what sort of lifestyle will render a person "ready"? There is no explicit identification of what the money represents. This fact has been obscured for most English readers by the ambiguity of the English word "talent," an ambiguity which is not in the Greek term talanton. The Greek term means simply a large sum of money (or, strictly, weight of precious metal; see on Mt 18:24) and has no metaphorical sense. But readers of this parable have traditionally interpreted the money as representing natural aptitudes or abilities, and so "talent" has come to be used in English in that transferred sense, which has completely eclipsed the original literal meaning in common usage. It is thus hard for the English reader to set aside the covert interpretation embodied in the very word "talent."
But this traditional reading of the parable is not the most likely either in terms of the way the story is told or in the light of the context in which it is set. If the Lucan form of the story (see below; [Lu 19:11-27]) may be taken as a guide, the money was given to the slaves specifically so that it should be used in trade (Lu 19:13), and in Matthew's version this is also indicated by the master's immediate settling of accounts on his return, his delight in the achievement of the first two slaves, and his rejection of the third slave's "prudent" policy of no return. It is then more about responsibility than about natural endowment, though the degree of responsibility given to each depends on their individual ability (Mt 25:15). The "talents," however, do not represent that individual ability but are allocated on the basis of it. They represent not the natural gifts and aptitudes which everyone has, but the specific privileges and opportunities of the kingdom of heaven and the responsibilities they entail. The parable thus teaches that each disciple has God-given gifts and opportunities to be of service to their Lord, and that these are not the same for everyone, but it is left to the reader to discern just what those gifts and opportunities are. [Note from Bobcat: See here and here and here for posts concerning the mis-translation of Eph 4:8 in the NWT which obscures the idea that each Christian is given gift(s) by Jesus.] This is appropriate to the open-ended nature of parables, and different readers may rightly place the emphasis on different aspects of their discipleship. [Note from Bobcat: Compare this statement with Rom 12:3-8; but contrast with the WT's emphasis almost entirely on door-to-door preaching.] What matters is that, however precisely the "talents" are interpreted, each disciple should live and work in such a boldly enterprising way that the returning master will say, "Well done, you good, trustworthy slave." That is what it means to "be ready" for the parousia, just as in the earlier parable it was the slave who was found hard at work who was rewarded (Mt 24:46-47). [Note from Bobcat: Again note how the WT has divided off the parable of the F&DS entirely for themselves, and thus, effectively prevented the vast majority of JWs from deriving any personal meaning from that parable.]
The talents do not represent personal abilities. This is a quark of English were "talents" (an expensive weight of precious metal in Greek, but a natural or personal ability in English) has been taken in the wrong sense. The parable itself says that the "talents" are given based upon each one's own "ability." (Mt 25:15)
The parable does not specifically say what they were, but they were precious/expensive. Note how in the parable of the F&DS in Luke it mentions things given, but they are left unnamed: Luke 12:48.
Elsewhere in the NT, individual Christians are given varied "gifts" as seen fit by Christ and God: Eph 4:7-11; Rom 12:3-8 (others could be listed also, e.g. 1Co 7:7; Mt 19:10, 11)
Just some thoughts. The ambiguity of the parable may be intentional for that purpose, to leave it applicable for all of those gifts.
Index to Parables