Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 1st, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 25

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-46

Shall we turn now to Matthew's gospel chapter twenty-five? In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew's gospel the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him what would be the signs that would precede the destruction of the temple, and then the signs of thy coming, and the end of the age. He had just left the scribes and the Pharisees, and told them that they would not see Him again, until they said, "blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord".

And so Jesus was referring to another coming. And so the disciples were questioning what will be the signs of thy coming in the end of the age. And so He proceeded to tell them the various signs that would indicate His return, and then having given to them many of the signs and the events that would take place prior to His return, His coming in clouds of glory to establish God's kingdom here upon the earth. He then said to His disciples that the important thing for them was they should be watching, and they should be ready, because they will not know the day, or the hour that the Son of man is coming.

Paul wrote to us in first Thessalonians chapter five, he said, "of the times and the seasons you have no need that I write unto you, for you yourselves know perfectly well that the coming of the Lord is as a thief in the night, but you are not the children of darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief".

Now the Lord does expect us to be aware of the times and the seasons, however, we do not know the day, or the hour. Therefore, the word of Christ to us is to be watching, and to be ready. And He gave to them a series of parables, and the emphasis of the parable was to be watching, or to be ready for the Lord, because you don't know when He is coming again. So the important thing is that you are watching, and that you are ready.

So we are continuing then, as we get into chapter twenty-five, these series of parables, which have as the chief thrust, the importance of us to be watching, and the importance for us to be ready when He returns. Because unfortunately there will be some who are not ready, and the coming of the Lord will catch them by surprise and they will not enter into the glorious marriage feast of the lamb.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven ( Matthew 25:1 ),

Then; when? When Jesus of course comes again!

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and they went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. And they that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. And while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all of those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise: Give us some of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so, lest there not be enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh ( Matthew 25:1-13 ).

Now with this particular parable there is both, the injunctions to be ready, for they that were ready went in, and then He concludes by saying, "watch therefore, because you don't know when He is coming".

Now again with the interpretation of the parable of the ten virgins, there are probably ten interpretations. Rather than try and go through the various ways that this parable has been interpreted, I will just share with you my understanding of the parable, and if you don't like my understanding, you can go ahead and pick something that fits your schema.

But I believe that the parable of the ten virgins, the ten virgins are representative of the whole church. That the five wise are representative of the true body of Christ. Now there is a vast church system in the world today, as Jesus said in His parables of the kingdom, how that the mustard seed grew into a tree, and every bird came and lodged in its branches. There are all kinds of birds lodging in the overall tree of the church, some of them not so good.

As we look at the church today in the world, I think that it is safe to say, for the most part the church is pretty apostate. There are surely many apostate ministers. As Paul the apostle said, "there will come up from among your own group, those who will depart from the faith, seeking to draw men after themselves, and many of them departing from our very Lord." And when you hear the unbelief and skepticism that is expressed by so many ministers today; unbelief in the Bible as God's inspired word, unbelief in the virgin birth in Jesus Christ, unbelief in the atoning death of Christ, and yet they call themselves ministers. And yet they are part of major denominations. And yet they are embracing all kinds of ungodly doctrines. And many of them are extremely opposed to any fundamental view of the scriptures and especially to any evangelical approach to man.

So the church encompasses a broad spectrum of people; some converted, and some unconverted. Surely this is declared in the messages of Jesus to the seven churches there in the second and third chapter in the book of Revelation. To many of the churches the word of the Lord was, "repent, or else I am going to come quickly." And the inference is that if you don't repent, you are going to be going into the Great Tribulation. In fact, He said that plainly to the church of Thyatira: "I gave her space to repent of her fornication, but she repented not, therefore I will cast her into the great tribulation, and those who commit fornication with her, unless they repent"( Revelation 2:21 ).

The church unfortunately is not a true representation of Jesus Christ. And I blush with shame at the history of the church. I blush with shame at the World Council of Churches today, the actions, the deeds of these men in the name of Christianity. But within this whole system of the church, God does have His faithful remnant, the true body of Christ. Jesus said to the church of Philadelphia, "thou has kept the word of my patience"( Revelation 3:10 ). There are those who are keeping true to the word of God. And within the church itself there is the true body of Christ.

Now the oil is representative in the scriptures of the Holy Spirit. There are those who are trying to do the work of the ministry, and the work of the gospel in the energies, and the abilities of their flesh, and their flesh only.

The church has developed magnificent programs. Some of the greatest genius of man has been dedicated to devising and scheming finance programs, and enlargement programs, and all of these kinds of things whereby the church might be built into a great organization and structure, that might influence the world through politics. But then there are those who are walking in the Spirit, who are filled with the Spirit, who are trusting in the Spirit to guide the church, to build the church. Paul tells us in Romans, "but as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God"( Romans 8:14 ).

And so it is significant that there were those foolish virgins who had their lamps, but no oil. And as the result when the cry finally came, behold the bridegroom cometh, notice they were all lumped in one party until that final cry, and then the real nature was exposed. And those foolish virgins lacking the oil, as they began to trim the wicks, they said, "oh, our lamps are going out." And they realized at that time that they didn't have the true light, but it was also at that time too late. And while they were gone to buy the oil, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went into the marriage feast of the Lamb. They that were foolish, when they came back, they said, "open to us," but the Lord said, "I don't know you; too late."

Therefore, be ready. Not only that, walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, depend upon the Spirit of God, be filled with the Spirit; all of these are injunctions given to us throughout the New Testament. And watch, therefore, because you don't know when the Lord is coming.

Now again, the kingdom of heaven is as a man who is traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And to one he gave five talents ( Matthew 25:14-15 ),

And a talent is actually a weight, and so the value depends on whether or not it is copper, or silver, or gold.

and to another he gave two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and he took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went out and traded the same, and made them other five talents [or increased them]. And likewise he that had received the two, he also gained another two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. And after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reckoned with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought the other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered unto me five talents: and behold, I've gained besides them five more talents. And his lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received the two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered unto me two talents: and behold, I've gained two other talents besides them. And his lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I know you, you are a hard man, you reap where you have not sown, you gather where you have not strowed: and I was afraid, and I went and hide the talent in the earth: and lo, there thou hast all that is thine [I give you back the talent you gave me]. And his lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reaped where I did not sow, and I gathered where I had not strowed: you ought therefore have put the money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury [or interest]. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. For unto everyone that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. And cast ye thee unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth ( Matthew 25:15-30 ).

Here obviously the Lord is telling us that He is wanting us to be productive with His things. Whatever God has entrusted into our care or keeping, God expects us to use it and to be productive with it. Not to bury, or to hide, not to try to just to preserve, but the Lord wants us to increase that which He has entrusted into our keeping. Now it is interesting to me that the amount that he gave to each one was according to that person's abilities. But the person who had the two was rewarded just as that one who had the five, in that in their doubling of what was given to them, they were each commanded of the Lord as good and faithful servants, and were given their place into the kingdom.

This parable would seem to indicate that our position in the kingdom of God, when Jesus comes to establish that kingdom upon the earth, will be relative to the faithfulness now to the things of God that God has entrusted into our care. If God has placed things in my keeping then I am responsible to be using those things to increase the kingdom of God. And if I am faithful now in those things that God has entrusted to me, then according to that faithfulness will be my position in the coming kingdom. In one of the gospels it says He said to him, "be thou ruler over ten cities, enter into the joy of thy lord"( Luke 10:17 ).

The Bible teaches that we are going to live and reign with Jesus Christ. Jesus in His message to the churches, to those who overcame, He said, that they would rule over the earth with a rod of iron. Looking forward to that day when Christ shall establish His kingdom, and our position in the kingdom determined on how I handle now those things God has entrusted to me.

Now God has entrusted to each one of His servants something. And to each one that was entrusted by God with whatever it was, it was his responsibility to use it, to bring an increase unto the Lord. It should cause each of us to seriously examine our own lives, and seek first of all to understand what is it that God has entrusted to me of His kingdom, of His kingdom's goods. And then what am I doing with what God has entrusted to me? Am I a faithful servant, or am I slothful in spiritual things, in the things of the kingdom? Do I have a very slothful attitude, just seeking to hang onto the status quo, rather than really seeking to use those things of God to their best advantage?

Now Jesus declares in verse thirty-one;

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. And then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry and fed thee, or thirsty and gave you a drink? When did we see you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? or when did we see you sick, or imprisoned, and came unto you? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry, and you did not give me meat: I was thirsty, you did not give me a drink: I was a stranger, you did not take me in: I was naked, and you did not clothe me: sick, and imprisoned, and you did not visit me. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or imprisoned, and did not minister unto you? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal ( Matthew 25:31-46 ).

When Jesus returns to the earth in glory to establish His kingdom upon the earth, the first order of business at His return will be the judgement of the nations, in which it will be determined which of those people who have survived the Great Tribulation will be allowed to enter into the kingdom age. And so all of the people of the nations will be gathered before Christ for this period of judgement. So it is possible that a person could survive the Great Tribulation and see the Lord when He comes again, and still not be able to enter into the kingdom age. There will be a definite division at that point, as He separates the people, the nations, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

In Daniel chapter twelve, as Daniel is asking the Lord "How long till the end?" And the Lord informs Daniel, "from the time the daily oblations and sacrifices are caused to be ceased, unto the end shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days". And He said, "blessed is he who comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-fifth day."

I believe that that signifies that this particular period of which Jesus is referring here in Matthew twenty-five will probably last for forty days, which is the number of judgement in the scriptures, forty is the number of judgement. "And it rained for forty days and forty nights", and this is a numeric kind of symbolism, the number of judgement. And it would appear that Jesus will be judging for forty-five days, actually, from the one thousand two hundred and ninety to one thousand and three hundred and thirty-fifth.

This period of judgement, though, in which Jesus will be judging the nations, as the Lord said to Daniel, "blessed is he who comes to the one thousand and three hundred and thirty-fifth day"; that is, if you make it to then you're in the kingdom. He will have cast off from the kingdom at that point, those that He deems unworthy to enter in.

Now notice to those referred to as His sheep He said "come ye, blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. It is interesting how that so often the scripture refers to God's plan for our lives, having existed from the foundations of the world. "Chosen in Him," Paul said, "from the foundations of the word." God's plan, God's eternal plan for His children to share in the glory of His kingdom. Jesus prayed, "Father I would that they who have been with me might share with me in the glory. That they might see me with the glory that I have with you before the world ever was"( John 17:5 ). The glory of God's kingdom. Those who will be able to share it.

Now when did we see you hungry, when did we see you thirsty, when did we see you in these conditions? And Jesus responds, "Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you did it to me."

There is a very beautiful story of a Martin of Turin. He was a soldier and he was a Christian. And as he was entering into a city on a cold day, there was a beggar in rags asking him for help. But Martin didn't have any money, and so he took his coat, his Army coat, and he cut it in half, and he gave half of it to this beggar. It was sort of a tattered coat and all, but he was willing to share it with this man in need. That night, it is said that Martin had a dream. And in his dream he saw the Lord standing with all of His holy angels in heaven, and the Lord was wearing half of an army coat. "Inasmuch as you've done it unto the least of these my brethren, you've done it unto me."

You know whatever we do we should do as unto the Lord. And whatever we do as unto the Lord, the Lord will reward us for it. So important that we be interested in people around us, in the needs of people around us. How can I say that the love of God dwells in my heart, if I close up my heart to the needs of people?

James in his practical exposition, bringing Christianity into the practical aspects said that if you just say to a brother, "Oh be fed, be warm"( James 2:16 ) and all, and yet you don't actually give him something, what good have you really done him? And he exhorts us actually to the practical aspects of reaching out, having compassion for those that are in need and reaching out to help those that are in need. Surely in these days of economic crisis, we as true children of God should be very concerned with those less fortunate ones in our midst, around us, who are in need of help at this time. How can we apply luxuries upon ourselves, when someone next to us is going hungry?

Jesus said "Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you did it to me." And those who we are ignoring the needs of those around them, the goats, "inasmuch as you didn't do it unto them, you didn't do it to me," Jesus said. Now there was one thing that I thought was interesting there, "depart from me", verse forty-one, "ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." God did not prepare Gehenna for men; it was prepared by God for Satan. Therefore God does not cast men into hell. He didn't prepare it for men; He prepared it for Satan. However, if a person wants to align himself with Satan and go there, God will do His best to stop him. God has done his best to stop him. He has sent His only begotten Son to save men from that fate. But if a person wants to reject God's provisions, if a person is bent upon rebelling against God, and joining with Satan's rebellion against God's kingdom, then a man can by his own volition and his own choices spend eternity apart from God.

The last verse, "and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to life eternal." Now the question of whether or not a person is in torment and suffers forever is an issue that I hope doesn't exist, but I dare not seek to change what God has said or to modify what God has said. And here Jesus said "depart from me, ye cursed into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to life eternal".

Now just what that does mean, I am not prepared to say. But I dare not try to modify it or change it. But really why should you be so concerned about it, if you're not going there. You know rather than being all upset over that aspect, just look for the Lord, and escape the place, and then you don't have to worry about it. Whether or not it's temporarily, whether or not you are consumed there, whether or not you're going to go on for a period of time, or whatever. As I say I would hope that, but I don't know. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 25". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/matthew-25.html. 2014.
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