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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Matthew 25

Verse 1

25:1 Then is an adverb of time and applies to the second coming of Christ predicted in the preceding chapter. The word specifies the exact part of the parable that is to be applied, namely, the sudden announcement of the approach of the bridegroom. The whole story had to be told in order to explain the particular point at which the application was to be made.

Verse 2

25:2. Wisdom and foolishness are opposite terms which could have numberless applications depending on the connection in which they are used.

Verse 3

:3-4 The present application is to the ones who took their lamps only (the foolish), and the wise were those who took extra oil in the vessel besides that already absorbed and retained by the wick. The lamps were shallow bowls with a projection resembling the spout of a water pitcher. A wick of twisted flax was placed in this spout extending down into the vessel which was supposed to be supplied with olive oil. The foolish virgins neglected to see that their lamps had oil in them.

Verse 5

25:5 Slumbered and slept. The first word properly means to be drowsy so as to nod, the last one means to go on into more complete sleep. This happened because the bridegroom was longer than expected in making his appearance. As to the usual hour for the wedding, Smith's Bible Dictionary says, "When the fixed hour arrived, which was generally late in the evening," etc. While it was late it evidently was not often as late as midnight, which explains why all of the virgins fell asleep, the wise as well as the foolish.

Verse 6

25:6 This cry was a strong sound for the original is defined in the lexicon, "a crying, outcry, clamor." That was made necessary by the lateness of the hour and the sleeping state of the virgins.

Verse 7

25:7 Trimmed is from KOSMEO which Thayer defines, "To put in order, arrange, make ready, prepare."

Verse 8

25:8. Putting the lamps in order would include lighting them as well as pinching off the charred end of the wick. Not until after lighting them did the foolish virgins realize they had neglected to "fill their lamps." There would be enough of the oil still retained in the wicks to start the light, but in a short while they would begin to grow dim. Gone out is rendered "going out" in the margin which is correct. When the flame began to go down they realized what was the trouble and appealed to the wise virgins for oil from their vessels.

Verse 9

25:9 The capacity of the old style lamp was limited and it would have been foolish for the wise to reduce their supply at the last moment.

Verse 10

5:10 Ordinary judgment should have told these virgins that it was too late to go on a shopping errand, especially at that time of night. The approach of the bridegroom had been announced with an urgent clamor which indicated that the preparatory period was over and that the event of the hour was about to start.

Verse 11

5:11 The word Lord is erroneously capitalized which indicates that it means Christ. The person referred to was the one having charge of the wedding activities, and the term as used by the virgins was one of respect only.

Verse 12

5:12 I know you not denotes he did not recognize them as being entitled to be present at the wedding. The approach of the bridegroom had been announced in no uncertain terms, and these people should have been already there if they were among the invited guests. Coming after the door was closed indicated to this master of ceremonies that they were would-be intruders who were coming out of a wrong motive.

Verse 13

5:13. Watch therefore are the words that express the lesson intended by the parable. It is the same that was set forth by the parable of the unfaithful servant in the closing verses of the preceding chapter.

Verse 14

5:14 Jesus spoke another parable that teaches the duties of the Lord's servants from another angle. Note that the man delivered unto his servants his (the man's) goods. In 1Ti 6:7 Paul says "we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." On that basis we should realize that what is in our hands does not belong to us, but it is delivered to us as a trust which the parable shows.

Verse 15

5:15 Talent is from TALANTON and Thayer defines it, "The scale of a balance, a balance, a pair of scales; a talent." He also explains it to mean, "a weight, varying in different places and times; a sum of money weighing a talent and varying in different states and according to the changes in the laws regulating the currency." The specific value of the talent is of no importance for the purpose of the parable. It is used merely as a means of expressing the different degrees of responsibility of the servants. Note the different amounts delivered to the servants was based on his several ability. The lord knew the abilities of his servants and assigned to them the tasks that corresponded with their ability.

Verse 16

6-17 Each of these men did exactly the same thing with the money entrusted to him. By trading or making the proper use of the money they doubled it.

Verse 18

5:18 The only comment I will make here on the third man, is that he at least did not misuse or lose it: further comments will be made at verse 25.

Verse 19

5:19 Reckoneth with them means he called upon them for a report.

Verse 20

5:20 The only report this man could or needed to make was that he had doubled his lord's money, and had the extra talents to show for it.

Verse 21

5:21 Good and faithful are the words that signify the lesson in the parable. Jesus combines the application with the telling of the parable by stating the reward awaiting the faithful servant. That reward will be to enter into the Joy of his Lord, which means the joy provided by the Lord to be shared together in heaven.

Verse 22

5:22 This servant's report was exactly the same kind as that of the first one, namely, that he had doubled his lord's money by trading.

Verse 23

5:23 It is significant that each of these two men received the same sentence from their lord, notwithstanding there was a great material difference in the amounts they had to return to him. But each servant was faithful to the trust bestowed upon him, which is the basis on which man will be judged at the last day. Some men have more ability than others and hence they will be required to accomplish more. But if everyone is faithful to the extent of bib power and opportunity he will receive the one and only reward in store, which is the entrance into the joy of the Lori,

Verse 24

5:24 Every one of the charges this servant made against his lord was false. He made them as a basis for his failure to do anything with the money that was put into his hands. But while they were false accusations, they will be turned against him as we shall see at verse 27.

Verse 25

5:25 This verse illustrates what may be called negative goodness in the light of some theories. There are multitudes who think they can expect to be saved by merely abstaining from active wrong doing. That if they avoid doing anything at all they certainly could not be accused of doing any wrong act. The man with one talent seems to have taken that view of the case. But there are many passages that condemn the sin of omission, such as Heb 2:3. This man thought that by burying the money it would be preserved for its owner. Even if that could have been accomplished with literal money, the rule will not hold good in the application. A man's talent will not remain fixed as to quality while in this world. If it is not put to good use, it will be corrupted by contact with the evil elements around it.

Verse 26

5:26 This servant was both wicked and slothful; wicked in making false accusations against his lord, and slothful in being indolent to do something with the money. Thou knewest, etc., does not mean that his lord admitted the accusations, but used them as a basis for the condemnation in the following verse.

Verse 27

5:27 Oughtest therefore. If this lord was as exacting as the servant pretended to think he was, that was one great reason he should have been eager to do something that would satisfy him and hence avoid receiving his severe rebuke and sentence. Exchanger is from TRAPEZITES which Thayer defines, "A money-changer, broker, banker, one who exchanges money for a fee, and pays interest on deposits." Such a business in Palestine was occasioned by the coming of people from various countries. Their money was not good in the local markets, which made it necessary to exchange it for current money of Palestine. Usury is the interest these exchangers would pay local citizens who were willing to lay their money on the banker's table to be used in the exchange business. In the spiritual application it means that if we make the proper use of the opportunities the word has furnished us, we will become better and improve as the years go by. The third man was not condemned for not having as much to give his lord, but for not having any interest at all. In other words, he was condemned on the principle of being unfaithful to the trust that was given over to him.

Verse 28

5:28 The lord wished his money to be put to some use so as to bring him proper returns. The man with the ten talents at hand when the accounting was made had proved his good business judgment and hence was entrusted with this other one.

Verse 29

5:29 Hath not, he hath might seem to be contradictory terms, but in the language of monetary dealings they are not. The second term is the principal and the first is the interest. Since the man had no interest to show, he was not allowed to retain the principal. In the spiritual application if a man does not make good use of his opportunity while in this life, he will not have another privilege. (Rev 22:11.)

Verse 30

5:30 No earthly lord ever treated his servants as this verse indicates. It is the conclusion that Jesus makes to the lesson of the parable. For weeping and gnashing of teeth see the comments on Mat 24:51.

Verse 31

5:31 Many of the passages of a descriptive character in the Bible are worded like the transactions of men. We know from all the direct teaching of the New Testament that Christ will be the sole judge of the human family (Act 17:31) at the day of final accounts. No conversation or other participation will be allowed upon the part of human beings. Therefore all the parables and other passages that speak of such actions are used figura-tively. They truly represent what would be the result were the mentioned conversations to be permitted. But aside from such parts of the various descriptions, the direct predictions will take place. For instance, the Son of man will actually come with the angels (2Th 1:7), and will sit upon the throne of his glory which means the throne of judgment.

Verse 32

5:32 All nations denotes that no human beings will escape the judgment bar of God, in which He will have seated his Son as the sole judge. The people will be divided into only two groups, for all human creatures will belong to one or the other, no third group. The reference to sheep and goats is for an illustration only. It is based on the practice of a shepherd who is getting ready to lead his flock into a fold for permanent shelter. While out over the fields some goats may have straggled in among the sheep, and the shepherd would not want them in his fold.

Verse 33

5:33 There is no moral value of a man's right hand over his left, but the separation had to be made and the assignment to these respective hands is so worded for its psychological effect.

Verse 34

5:34 While Jesus will be the judge, he will pronounce sentence in harmony with the wishes of his Father who has created and prepared all good things. Foundation is from KATABOLE, defined in Thayer's lexicon, "a founding," and that means the starting of something. World means the universe in general, but has special reference to the orderly arrangement of things that were intended for the occupancy of man. God intended from the start to have a place of joy and happiness into which the creature man would be admitted after qualifying himself for it. It will be the inheritance of this place (here called a kingdom) that the royal judge will invite the righteous to have.

Verse 35

5:35 See the comments at chapter 13:3 on the scope of the parables. In the present one Jesus had only one point to impress which will be brought out as the comments proceed. But as it is in most of them, the whole story must be told to make the point of application clear. Administering food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty would be classed among "good works" as that term is commonly used. Hospitality is likewise so considered according to Heb 13:2.

Verse 36

5:36 Clothing the naked anti visiting ("looking after") the sick are both among good works pertaining to our relation with each other. In prison does not mean in the sense of a penal institution; at least it was not being used as such in this case, because it was the disciple of Jesus who was there. It means a guard house in which the enemy was confining a captive for the purpose of persecution. If the disciple was in a regular penal structure he was placed there on a false accusation. The case of Paul in Rome (2Ti 1:16-18) is not exactly in point, for he was An his own hired house. Yet he was a virtual prisoner because he was chained to an officer, and while in that situation the disciple Onesiphorus "came unto him."

Verse 37

7-39 The righteous will think that Jesus meant all these things were done for him personally. They did not remember having any such experiences and made inquiry as to when it was to which he referred.

Verse 40

5:40 This verse tells us the main object of the parable. Jesus is not on earth in person and hence we cannot show him such personal favors as these good sheep are said to have done. But his disciples who are his and our brethren are here, and we always have opportunities for doing them good. (See Gal 6:10.)

Verse 41

5:41 The extent of this everlasting fire will be explained at verse 46. But for the present it should be noted that it was not originally designed for man, but for the devil and his angels. These angels evidently mean the fallen angels who had sinned and were cast down from heaven (2Pe 2:4; Jud 1:6).

Verse 42

2-43 The same list of good works is named in the sentence against the folks on the left hand as was said to the others. It might be well to note that these people were not condemned because of any wicked thing they had done. See the comments on verse 25 about the negative principle in the conduct of life.

Verse 44

4-45 The ones on the left will have the same misunderstanding about the personal treatment that the others had, and they will be given the same explanation. They might have sometimes professed an interest in the needs of their brethren, but their expressions of sympathy were not accompanied with anything practical and hence no good was accomplished. In Jas 2:14-16 is a statement on this angle of the subject.

Verse 46

5:46 These means the ones on the left hand of the king and the righteous are the ones on the right. Punishment is from KOLASIS which Thayer defines, "correction, punishment, penalty." Such words do not indicate a condition where the victim is unconscious or has been annihilated as certain persons teach. Everlasting and eternal are both from AIONIOS which Thayer defines, "Without end, never to cease, everlasting." This definition applies to the word that is used to describe the future state of both the saved and the unsaved. Whatever can be said as to the duration of the eternal life of the saved, applies with equal force to the duration of the punishment of the unsaved. No man who professes to believe the Bible will say that eternal life will ever end, so neither can he consistently say that the punishment of the unsaved will ever end. Both classes will exist consciously in their respective circumstances without end.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Matthew 25". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.