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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Matthew 25

 

 

Verses 1-13

The Parable of the Ten Virgins - After teaching on the Second Coming in Matthew 24:1-51 Jesus further illustrates how to be ready for His Second Coming by telling three parables. The second one is called the Parable of the Ten Virgins ( Matthew 25:1-13). Many scholars believe that this parable refers to the Rapture of the Church that immediately precedes the seven-year Tribulation Period. In this parable five virgins were ready for the bridegroom's coming and five virgins were unprepared. The key word is "watch," which is found in the concluding verse of this parable.

Matthew 25:13, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

Two Types of Believers- The Parable of the Ten Virgins is about the children of God, the brides of Christ, who either lived in the flesh, or walked in the Spirit. Note these insightful words from Frances Roberts:

"Behold, I say unto thee: Yield Me your body as a living sacrifice, and be not conformed to the things of the world, but be ye transformed by the renewal of your mind. Set your affections on things of the Spirit, and be not in bondage to the desires of the flesh. For I have purchased you at great price. Yea, thou art My very special possession and My treasure. I would have thee to set thine affections and desires upon Me even as I have set Mine heart upon thee. It is written that the wife hath no power over her own body except for the husband, nor the husband but for the wife. So I would that ye should yield your body to Me, otherwise I am limited in My power to work. For I must have a vessel through which to operate. I would have you to be a vessel not only yielded to Me, but purified, dedicated, sanctified for My use; available to Me at all times, and ready to be used at whatever time I have need of thee. Thou wilt not have time to make thyself ready when I need thee. Thou must be already prepared. Thou must keep thyself in a state of readiness. Thou canst not live to the flesh and at the same time be available to the Spirit. Ye must walk in the Spirit, and in so doing keep thyself from becoming entangled in the things of the flesh. Ye just live in obedience to the Spirit, and thus be kept from being in bondage to the desires of the flesh." 552]

552] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 82-3.

Frances Roberts says that the lamp represents the Word of God, while the oil represents the Holy Spirit that illuminates the Word and the fire of the lamp represents the fire of testimony that goes forth from those who witness to others of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and in particular of the Second Coming of Christ. Those who hold lamp without oil represent those believers whose fellowship with the Lord has grown cold, and thus, their witness of Jesus Christ has ceased. Note:

"This is the night of man's rebellion and disobedience. Ye are beginning to see the fulfillment of the second Psalm. But in this night, the door shall be opened. It shall be opened by the Bridegroom, and they who are watching, and they who have maintained their lamps of witness shall go in. Others shall see and shall desire to enter, but shall be too late. See that thy witness not cease. Only as ye have a full supply of My Spirit can the fire of testimony be kept alive. They who hold darkened lamps could scarcely be unbelievers; for the lamp is My Word. My Word without My Spirit can produce no witness. The fire is the witness, and the fire cometh never from the Word alone, but always from the Word and the oil of the Spirit. See that ye lose not the oil. When those who possess the oil have been taken away, where shall ye go to buy? Be filled, My people, and be burning, for when I come I shall come for the living, not for the dead; for the Living Witness I shall preserve to carry the light over into the Kingdom Age." 553]

553] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 159.

There is Scriptural evidence that a lamp is used symbolically of the Word of God. Note:

Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

There is a witness in Acts 2:3 that our words are like fire.

Acts 2:3, "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them."

A passage in Mary Baxter's book A Divine Revelation of Heaven illustrates how the vessel, the oil, and the fire are figurative of the testimonies of God's children.

"Once I saw a minister prophesying. As he was prophesying, God opened up my eyes to see an angel over his head. The angel was pouring on him what looked like oil mingled with fire, out of a horn. Then I saw the man's heart in a vision. It was full of the Bible, the Word of God. The Word seemed to come up from his heart, into his throat, out of his mouth. I could see the Word as it came out of his mouth. As it hit the air, it seemed to become a two-edged sword." 554]

554] Mary K. Baxter, A Divine Revelation of Heaven (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1998), 167-8.

In his book At the Master's Feet Sadhu Sundar Singh says that the vessel represents our heart while the oil represents the presence of the Holy Spirit in our heart.

"Now is the time to obtain and keep in the vessels of our hearts the oil of the Holy Spirit, as the five wise virgins did (Matt. xxv 1-13); otherwise like the five foolish ones we shall meet with nothing but grief and despair." 555]

555] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line]; accessed 26 October 2008; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "III Prayer," section 3, part 5.

According to these sources, the difference between the two groups of virgins is their anointing and zeal to testify of Christ's Coming. The Parable of the Ten Virgins teaches that not all believers will God in the Rapture. Luke's Gospel makes a similar statement by saying, "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." ( Luke 21:36) In other words, some will be found worthy to escape the seven-year Tribulation Period, and others will not be considered worthy. Hebrews 9:28 tells us that Jesus will come a second time for "those who are looking for His appearing," which reveals that there are those believers who are not awaiting His return, but have gone back into worldly pursuits.

Hebrews 9:28, "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."

If we look for biblical examples of those who preached of impending judgment and escaped it, we easily find this in the life and ministry of Noah, who was a "preacher of righteousness" ( 2 Peter 2:5) immediately before the Flood, and God delivered him from this judgment. We also see the example of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:1-13. Ray Brubaker, in his book The Rapture: God's Reward for Readiness, teaches this very message of how some believers will miss the rapture because they have become cold. 556]

556] Ray Brubaker, The Rapture: God's Reward for Readiness [on-line]; assessed 23February 2010; available from http://www.raybrubaker.com/books/Is_the_Rapture_the_Reward_of_Readiness.pdf; Internet.

I support the view that the ten virgins were born again, and that the lamp represents the Word of God and the oil the Holy Spirit and the flame the proclamation of Jesus' Second Coming. I support this view because these ten virgins were called to serve as torch bearers for the arrival of the bridegroom by escorting him to the bride. Their torches helped others identify the wedding processional as the bride made his way to the brides house, and then to the wedding feast. In like manner, we are called to proclaim the Second Coming of Jesus so that the Church and the world will be ready for this event.

Historical View as the Parousia of Jesus Christ- Regarding the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the Church has historically upheld its eschatological theme as an allegory of the Parousia of Jesus Christ, since it is found within the Olivet Discourse. The bridegroom is traditionally interpreted as Christ; the ten virgins represented the Church as it awaited Christ's Return, whose members were understood to be made up of both faithful and unfaithful members; the arrival of the bridegroom represented the Parousia of Christ; the rejection of the foolish maidens represented the final judgment. 557] Other scholars, such as Walvoord, believe that the parable makes no clear distinction that identifies the characters in these groups of parables as the Church exclusively, leading to an interpretation of final judgment rather than the Parousia. 558] A few others interpreted the parable as a teaching allegorically on a person's individual, spiritual attainment, rather than the Parousia or judgment, but the Church throughout the ages as largely upheld to an "ecclesiastical-eschatological" interpretation. 559]

557] Joachim Jeremias, Rediscovering the Parables (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966), 39. Some notable scholars, such as Joachim Jeremias, interpret the foolish virgins to represent Israel, and the wise to represent the Gentiles, but this is not a popular view.

558] J. F. Walvoord, "Christ's Olivet Discourse on the End of the Age: The Parable of the Ten Virgins." Bibliotheca Sacra, 129 (1972), 101.

559] Ulrich Luz, Matthew 21-28: A Commentary, in Hermeneia - A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans. James E. Crouch, ed. by Helmut Koester (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 235-6. Luz explains that one of the earliest interpretations to the Parable of the Ten Virgins is recorded by Tertullian (A.D 200), who refers to the views of an ancient Gnostic group, the Valentinians. They imposed a spiritual interpretation on this parable, believing it was teaching about individual enlightenment rather than containing eschatological or ecclesiastical truths. This heretical group understood the foolish virgins to represent the five carnal senses and the wise virgins to represent the intellectual virtues that lead to the attainment of gnostic truth (De Anima 184). Clement of Alexandria (A.D 200) mentions the Gnostic view of this parable as well, who interpreted the wise virgins in this story to represent "gnostic souls" that "seek truth" and abstain from evil as they await the Lord's return, with their lamps giving "light in the midst of dark ignorance", as they live among the "ignorance of the world". (Stromata, 712) Origen (A.D 250), a pupil and successor of Clement, "developed" this spiritual interpretation by allegorizing the women to represent human senses, the bridegroom is figurative of Jesus, which is the Word of God that purifies the human senses. (Comm. Ser. Matthew 63)

Ironside notes that since Matthew's parables focus on the nature and entire period of fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven, it would be inappropriate to apply the Parable of the Ten Virgins (implying the other parables as well) to the Tribulation period only, or to the Jewish remnant only, but rather to event of the Second Coming of Christ for the Church. 560]

560] H. A. Ironside, Expository Notes on the Gospel of Matthew , 327.

In summary, The Parable of the Ten Virgins emphasizes the need for Christians to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ by keeping one's hope continually on things above, and not one this earth. Although the burning lamp is popularly understood as an allegory of a believer's good works, more specifically, the ten virgins with the lamps represent those who have heard the Word of God; and five wise virgins with the oil with its burning light represent those believers who, by the work of the Holy Spirit, obey the Word and let their lives serve as an outward testimony to others because of the inner hope of His Coming. The message Jesus taught in the parables of the Olivet Discourse states that those who are doers of the Word and not hearer only will take part in the Second Coming, with each parable emphasizing a particular aspect of being ready for this future event. The problem of whether these parables specifically allude to the Rapture of the Church or to the Second Coming after the Tribulation Period can be resolved by understanding that the Second Coming for the Church will take place at the time of the Rapture (which Paul emphasizes in 1Thessalonians), while Jesus' Second Coming to establish His kingdom in Israel will take place at the end of the Tribulation Period, at which time He will set up His throne in Jerusalem (which Jesus emphasizes in the Olivet Discourse). Jesus delivered the Olivet Discourse to teach His disciples about the His Second Coming to set up His Kingdom upon earth in response to their questions on this topic, and concluded with several parables to teach them now to live in anticipation of these eschatological events.

Historical Background: Description of an Ancient Jewish Wedding- The setting for the Parable of the Ten Virgins falls within the context of a traditional ancient Jewish wedding ceremony, which John MacArthur describes as "the most celebrated social event" in such cultures, involving the entire community. 561] Only a limited knowledge of ancient oriental weddings exists through ancient writings, and such customs are believed to have varied from one geographical location to the next. 562] Jeremias believes this passage is an accurate description of a traditional wedding of its day. 563] Leon Morris gives a simple, but general, description of an ancient Jewish wedding as best as can be sketched with existing scholarship. 564] The ancient Jewish wedding was preceded by a lengthy period of betrothal, as seen in the narrative material of Joseph and Mary. This betrothal was binding and only dissolved by divorce proceedings. The wedding ceremony itself was preceded by a processional, where the bridegroom comes to take his bride, and together they make their way to the wedding feast. A description of an ancient Jewish processional can be found in 1 Maccabees 9:37-39, in which the bride, accompanied by a great processional, went out to meet the bridegroom and his friends at a prearranged location. This processional was made up of "drums, instruments of music and weapons". The wedding party made its way to the house of the bridegroom's father or to a designated location where the wedding and the marriage feast were to take place. The Song of Solomon 3:6-11 also describes a wedding processional with the bride in a royal palanquin perfumed with spices ( Matthew 3:6; Matthew 3:9-10), accompanied by sixty valiant men armed with swords ( Matthew 3:7-8) approaching Jerusalem. The "daughters of Zion" were then charged to go forth to meet her ( Matthew 3:11). Psalm 45:13-15 also describes a wedding processional as it enters a banquet hall to present the bride to the bridegroom with bridesmaids joyfully accompanying her. It is clear from the Parable of the Ten Virgins that this processional could take place at night, although in the Song of Solomon it took place during the day. Luz concludes there is nothing within Matthew 25:1-13 that contradicts these typical nuptial events. 565] In fact, he says the parable limits itself to those events necessary for teaching an eschatological lesson, since the readers were aware of the missing details.

561] MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 84.

562] Ulrich Luz, Matthew 21-28: A Commentary, in Hermeneia - A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, ed. by Helmut Koester and trans. by James E. Crouch, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 228; Blomberg, Preaching the Parables, 170.

563] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 173.

564] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , in The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 621.

565] Luz, Matthew 21-28: A Commentary, 228.

Literary Structure of the Parable of the Ten Virgins- In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, emphasis is placed upon the interaction between the ten virgins and the bridegroom, rather than on the marriage ceremony and wedding feast itself; thus, the bride is not mentioned. Alfred Plummer says if the bride had been mentioned, then the parable would have lacked the necessary emphasis between the "wise" and the "foolish" maidens. 566] This emphasis allows for the typical three-fold character model of many of the Gospel parables, which in this case is the bridegroom, the five wise virgins and the five foolish ones. 567] Thus, the parable uses the interaction between these three characters to establish its theological message.

566] Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew , 343-4.

567] See Kenneth E. Bailey, "Poet and Peasant," Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes: A Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1983) for a further discussion on this three-fold literary structure of Jesus' parables.

Regarding the identification of syntactic parallelism within the parable, Hagner and Gundry offer a limited amount in the contrast with verses 2-4, 5-6, and 8-9. 568] Otherwise, a suggested parallelism for the entire parable is offered in Appendix 2, which shows emphasis being placed upon the poor decisions of the foolish virgins.

568] Hagner, Matthew 14-28, S 683Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Handbook of a Mixed Church Under Persecution, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 499.

Luz offers a three-scene structure for this parable reflecting the "classic three steps of a dramatic narrative." 569] He believes the first scene ( Matthew 25:1-5) provides background information by introducing the three characters in the parable which are the wise virgins, the foolish virgins, and the bridegroom. It also describes the ten virgins as they tarried for the bridegroom. The second scene ( Matthew 25:6-9) gives the actual drama as the virgins wake up and prepare for the arrival of the bridegroom. This scene creates suspense, reaching a climax with the dialogue between the wise and foolish virgins. The third and final scene (10-12) presents the arrival of the bridegroom and the dire consequences created by the decisions of the foolish maidens. This final scene resolves the tension created in the previous scene with the bridegroom reacts in a manner surprising to the hearers. Jesus uses this final element of surprise to drive home His point in the concluding verse with a call to watchfulness ( Matthew 25:13), a theme woven throughout this group of eschatological parables. The key theological words shared by these parables are "ready" and "watch."

569] Luz, Matthew 21-28: A Commentary, 227.

Syntactic Parallelism in the Parable of the Ten Virgins- The concept of syntactic parallelism within the parables of the Gospels is developed by Kenneth E. Bailey. 570] Offered below is a step parallel structure for the Parable of the Ten Virgins, revealing how the emphasis is placed upon the poor decisions of the foolish virgins. "A" reveals the carelessness of the foolish virgins for not taking oil, and "A ΄" shows the consequences of this decision when the wise did not share their oil. "B" reveals the carelessness of the foolish virgins for sleeping when preparation on their part was needed upon the arrival of the bridegroom, and "B ΄" shows the consequences of this decision by being left behind. "C" reveals the carelessness of the foolish virgins for their decision borrow oil, and "C ΄" shows the consequences of this decision by not being allowed to enter the marriage feast after departing to buy oil.

570] See Bailey, "Poet and Peasant," Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes: A Literary-Cultural Approach to the Parables in Luke.

1Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

A 3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

A 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

B 5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

B 6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

C 7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

C 8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

A ΄ 9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you:

A ΄ but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

B ΄ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came;

B ΄ and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

C ΄ 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

C ΄ 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

13 You watch, therefore, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Matthew 25:1 — "Then" - Comments- The Parable of the Ten Virgins begins with the conjunction tovte (then), used often in Matthew's Gospel, to pick up the setting from the previous parable as the time of the return of the master of the house, and from the preceding exposition to reflect the theme of the Parousia. 571] Morris notes how a number of modern translations bring out the temporal of this conjunction aspect with "at that time…" (NIV, GNB and ISV)

571] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1003.

"shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto" - Comments- The phrase "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like (the story of)" is considered an "introductory formula" Matthew uses often to begin his parables ( Matthew 13:24; Matthew 13:31; Matthew 13:33; Matthew 13:44-45; Matthew 13:47; Matthew 13:52; Matthew 18:23; Matthew 20:1; Matthew 22:2; Matthew 25:1), with Matthew 25:1 being the only use of the future tense because of its eschatological message. 572] The comparison is generally understood to apply more broadly to the wedding events than to the virgins themselves. 573] MacArthur suggests this phrase is intended to compare the preparedness of these ten maidens to the preparedness necessary at Christ's Second Coming. 574] In other words, the situation faced by these ten girls at the wedding will be similar to the time of the Parousia. 575]

572] Hagner, Matthew 14-28, S 683

573] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 51; Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus, 172.

574] MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 85.

575] Barclay M. Newman and Philip C. Stine, A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew , (London: United Bible Societies, 1988), 788.

"ten" - Comments- The significance of the number of virgins may be found in the Jewish belief that "ten" represented completeness, or as Gundry proposes, it was borrowed from the number of slaves in the next parable ( Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-27). 576] In addition, D. A. Carson notes the use of ten people in Ruth 4:2 and Luke 19:13 to support the Jewish idea of completeness. 577]

576] Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew , 343; MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 86; Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Handbook of a Mixed Church Under Persecution, 497.

577] D.A. Carson, Matthew , in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 8, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn, in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD_ROM] (Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corp, 2001), notes on Matthew 25:1.

"virgins" - Comments- The Greek word παρθένος (G 3933) literally means "virgins." 578] This English word more accurately applies to Matthew 1:23 regarding Isaiah's prophecy of Jesus' virgin conception; but scholars understand it to carry a broader application within the context of this parable meaning "young, unmarried women." 579] Hultgren gives perhaps the best amplified translation as "young women of marriageable age," but, like many others, settles upon the single term "bridesmaids." 580] These young women served the traditional role of escorting the bride and perhaps the bridegroom to their wedding feast in an elaborate processional. Regarding their allegorical significance within the parable, the early Church popularly interpreted them to represent the Church. This view has maintained its popularity among modern scholars, who generally see the wise virgins as those who are born again and the foolish who only carry an outward appearance of salvation. 581] Others who support a partial rapture theory understand the ten virgins to represent those who have set themselves aside in purity to await their bridegroom, and that all ten "virgins" were believers, for they all believed that the bridegroom was coming.

578] Ibid., 787.

579] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1003.

580] Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus, 169.

581] Craig L. Blomberg understands the distinction made between the wise and the foolish as those who are in a relationship with God and those who just think they are Christians. (See Blomberg, Preaching the Parables, 197.) H. A. Ironside says the foolish are those who are not necessarily born again, but who carry an outward testimony as Christians. (See H. A. Ironside, Expository Notes on the Gospel of Matthew , (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc, 1948; Reprint 1955), 328.) Morgan believes the distinction between these virgins is in their relationship to the bride, with the wise virgins anticipating nothing else but the coming of the bridegroom, while the foolish are careless in their role as bridesmaids. He interprets the wise virgins to be those Christians who have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, while the foolish turn out to have a false anticipation of His Second Coming. He says they both share a "common hope," but display different attitudes towards this future event. (See Morgan, The Gospel According to Matthew , 289.)

"which took their lamps" - Comments- Nolland says the Greek word λαμπάς is "etymologically imprecise," and therefore carries two possible meanings. It can technically refer to the ancient, handheld clay lamps containing a wick, or to torches made with sticks wrapped with a rag dipped in oil around one end, or the rag placed in a container on the top of the stick. 582] Although the traditional view has been to translate it as lamps, many modern scholars believe the outdoor usage in this parable supports the idea of a torch, supporting their view by its usage in early and later Greek literature. 583] Lamps work better inside a home because they burn longer and are easily extinguished by wind outdoors. The torches, on the other hand, burn stronger, but are not suitable for indoor use because of the smoke they produce. In addition, Luz points out how ancient artistry testifies to the use of torches for such outdoor processionals, which can burn up to two hours. 584] In contrast, Daniel J. Harrington believes the extra container of oil in the parable suggests the traditional view of an oil-fed lamb. 585]

582] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1003.

583] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 620; Luz, Matthew 21-28, 228-9.

584] Luz, Matthew 21-28: A Commentary, 228-30.

585] Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew , in Sacra Pagina Series, vol 1, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991), 347.

"and went forth" - Comments- Nolland says the phrase "went forth to meet" is used elsewhere in ancient Greek literature as an "official welcome for a dignitary," and is probably used in a similar way in this parable. 586]

586] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1004.

"to meet the bridegroom" - Word Study on "meet" - Strong says the Greek word "meet" ( απά ντησις) (G 529) means, "to encounter." According to Moulton and Milligan, this Greek word appears to carry a technical meaning for an official welcome of an arriving dignitary. 587] F. F. Bruce says that it was often used when an important person was approaching a town to pay an official visit. The leaders of the town would go out to meet him and escort him to his final destination. Bruce says that this Greek word was so distinct in its meaning that it was carried over into Latin, where it was used with the same meaning. He says Cicero used it when Julius Caesar went on diplomatic visits. Because of this απά ντησις was often used with its counterpart παρουσί α, which refers to the official visit of a king or other dignitary. 588]

587] James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-literary Sources (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1914-1929), 53.

588] F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963), 68-70.

In each of the four uses of this word in the New Testament, the Greek word απά ντησις carries the same meaning. Note:

Matthew 25:1, "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom."

Matthew 25:6, "And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."

Acts 28:15, "And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage."

1 Thessalonians 4:17, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

Comments- We now know that the believers in Rome met Paul with a royal welcome in Acts 28:15, although he arrived as a prisoner. We know now that this is the reason that we will meet Jesus in the air in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and not on the ground or in heaven. This is why the five virgins went out to meet the bridegroom in Matthew 25:1; Matthew 25:6.

It is interesting to note that I have seen this formal welcome given to important people in Uganda, East Africa on many occasions. The greater a man's importance in this culture, the larger the crowds that will welcome such dignitaries.

Comments- Because the exact order of ancient Jewish weddings is not fully understood, scholars are divided on how this parable is describing the processional. Nolland suggests the maidens are to escort the bridegroom to his bride, so are waiting at his house, while Morris and Barclay M. Newman suggest the ten maidens attend to the bride during the course of the wedding and joined the processional with the bride's party as they went out to meet the bridegroom and then made their way to his home, so are waiting at her house. 589]

589] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 620; Newman and Stine, A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew , 788.

Matthew 25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

Matthew 25:2Comments- Matthew 25:2 states how five maidens were foolish and five were wise Although Augustine found allegorical significance in the number five, believing it represented the five senses, modern scholarship generally believes there is no apparent implication as to the equal number of wise and foolish maidens, but simply a matter of convenience. 590]

590] Manlio Simonetti, ed, Matthew 14-28, in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (New Testament Ib), (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 216; Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 621.

Matthew 25:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

Matthew 25:3 — Comments- In the original Greek text Matthew 25:3 opens with the conjunction γάρ (for), which Nolland believes is a grammatical link indicating an explanation of the two opening verses is to follow. 591] In other words, the ensuing passage will explain why five maidens were foolish and five were wise, which begins by saying the foolish took no oil with them, while the wise prepared themselves with a container of oil. Nolland believes the extra oil supports the translation of "torch" rather than "lamp" because a single, prepared lamp with its oil cannot be described as foolish; but a quick burning torch without extra oil is clearly an oversight. 592] Many views as to the allegorical meaning of the oil and the torches (or lamps) have been proposed. Origen believed the oil represented good works. Augustine believes the lamps symbolize man's heart burning with a pure conscience and inner glory, manifested by good works; and the oil represents one's charity. Epiphanius says the oil represents compassion. 593] Martin Luther believed the oil represented genuine faith, while Grotius believed it symbolized the Holy Spirit. 594] Alfred Plummer suggests the lamp represents outward works, while the oil represents "inward spiritual power." 595] Perhaps Matthew's earlier statement, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works," ( Matthew 5:16) supports such allegorical interpretations. However, Nolland and many others believe it is pointless to try and attach an allegorical meaning to these particular items in the parable. 596]

591] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1005.

592] Ibid.

593] Simonetti, Matthew 14-28, 214-20.

594] Morgan, The Parables and Metaphors of Our Lord, 150.

595] Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew , 344.

596] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1010.

Note that the five foolish virgins looked just like the five wise virgins in their outward appearance. There were no physical differences at all, just like a lot people in churches today. The difference is that some are preparing for Jesus' coming, and some are not.

In his book The Final Quest Rick Joyner likens the five foolish virgins to those Christians who get saved, but do not live for the Lord. They live for themselves and do know the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. When they appear before the judgment seat of Christ, they will suffer tremendous grief for not having known the Lord through the presence of the Holy Spirit. They will suffer the loss of all things, except their souls, according to 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. Rick Joyner met them on the way to the throne in a place distant from the throne called "outer darkness." 597]

597] Rick Joyner, The Final Quest (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1977), 86-90.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15, "Every man"s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man"s work of what sort it is. If any man"s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man"s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

Matthew 25:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

Matthew 25:4Comments- Verse four contrasts the thoughtlessness of the five foolish virgins to the preparations made by the wise. Nolland says the five wise do what is considered ordinary, which is to take along the container of oil needed to replenish the torches, making it foolish for the others to not do so. 598] The word ἀγγεῖον (G 30) is used only here in the New Testament, and is understood to mean a container for a number of items, including oil in extra-biblical writings. 599]

598] Ibid, 1006.

599] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 622.

Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

Matthew 25:5 — "While the bridegroom tarried" - Comments- The first scene closes with Matthew 25:5, saying the bridegroom tarried, causing the maidens to yield to slumber. The early Church interpreted the bridegroom as Christ. 600] This interpretation has maintained its popularity throughout the centuries, since the concept of the Church as the bride of Christ is clearly developed in the New Testament ( Matthew 9:15, John 3:29, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:21-33, Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:9; Revelation 22:17), with the word νυμφίος (G 3566) being used one other time in Matthew's Gospel as a clear reference to Christ (see Matthew 9:15). The context of the Olivet Discourse also supports this interpretation because Jesus was talking about His Return to set up the Kingdom of Heaven. Although Jeremias says the Messiah's representation as a bridegroom is foreign to the Old Testament and other later Jewish literature, being initially used in the Pauline writings, most scholars support this metaphor as an ancient Jewish concept originating from the understanding that God was "the husband of his people" Israel ( Isaiah 54:4-6; Isaiah 62:4-5, Ezekiel 16:7-34, Hosea 2:19-20). 601] The parable gives no reason for the delay of the bridegroom, yet it has a great affect upon the story, since this is what causes the distinction to be made between the wise and foolish maidens. 602] Such delays are common among oriental cultures due to the custom of negotiating the amount of the bride price. 603] Thus, it is not considered an element of surprise in this parable. 604] Hilary of Poitiers interpreted the delay of the bridegroom's return to symbolize the time the Lord gives the world to repent. 605] MacArthur suggests this delay represents the fact that Jesus' Second Coming is to be "unexpected," a delay that is predetermined and known by God, but delayed from a human perspective. 606]

600] Simonetti, Matthew 14-28, 214-20; Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 53.

601] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 52; idem, Rediscovering the Parables, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1966), 40; Craig L. Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990), 195; Carson, Matthew , "Introduction to Ten Virgins ()".

602] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1006.

603] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 173-4; Newman and Stine, A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew , 788. In addition, the author of this paper has been personally told by one African man of the delay of his wedding due to the negotiations of the bride price.

604] Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables, 193.

605] Simonetti, Matthew 14-28, 214-20.

606] MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 88.

"they all slumbered and slept" - Comments- Hultgren translates this phrase as "became drowsy and fell asleep", with the first verb implying "near sleep" and the second implying "actual sleep." 607] The NEB shortens it to "dozed off to sleep." 608] Augustine believes the sleep of the virgins represents the sleep of death that every believer eventually experiences; but this view is generally rejected today. 609] Plummer suggests this act of slumber reflects "human weakness" that is characteristic of all people, Christians and unbelievers. 610] Nolland says it is "totally innocent" for the maidens to fall asleep under these delayed circumstances, but Jesus is using this attitude of slumber to set up His warning in Matthew 25:13 that the children of the kingdom must stay awake at all times. 611] MacArthur believes the slumbering maidens represent, in particular, the delay between the signs of the last days of His Coming and His actual appearing. 612]

607] Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus, 174.

608] Newman, A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew , 789.

609] Simonetti, Matthew 14-28, 214-20; Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables, 194.

610] Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew , 344.

611] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1006.

612] MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 88.

Matthew 25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Matthew 25:6Comments- The second scene of the parable begins in Matthew 25:6 with the sudden cry at night to go out and meet the bridegroom.

"And at midnight there was a cry made" - Nolland explains the Greek phrase "at midnight" is best translated "well into the night," or "in the middle of the night," because this phrase is found as a genitive absolute in the Greek text, which grammatical construction is intended on being less accurate than if the author had used the temporal dative case to say, "at such and such a time." However, MacArthur understands the phrase "at midnight" to support rabbinical tradition of the Messiah's return at midnight, noting how the children of Israel went out from Egyptian bondage at midnight ( Exodus 12:29). 613] The early Church interpreted the coming of the bridegroom at midnight to represent the Parousia. 614] Augustine believed midnight symbolizes the time of least expectation for the Lord's Return. 615] I believe the phrase "at midnight" reflects the troubled times upon earth at His Second Coming, as Jesus has just stated in the previous passage ( Matthew 24:29-31). Midnight would refer to the fact that the time of the Second Coming would take place at the darkest period of earth's history, a time of trouble unlike anything up until the present time.

613] Ibid., 89.

614] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 53.

615] Simonetti, Matthew 14-28, 214-20.

Matthew 24:29-31, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."

"Behold, the bridegroom cometh" - Augustine believed the cry, "Behold, the bridegroom," represents the sound of the trumpet at Christ's Second Coming. 616] Blomberg develops this idea by comparing the cry to the sound of the trumpet in Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:52, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16. 617] Ironside broadens this allegorical interpretation to include the cry of the Reformation and its subsequent awakening to the Gospel. 618] Although believers will know His Coming is near because of the testimony of the signs of the times, they will not know the exact day or hour until His appearing in the clouds ( Matthew 24:30). Jeremias compares the suddenness of bridegroom's arrival to that of the Flood ( Matthew 24:37-39), of the entry of the thief ( Matthew 24:43), and of the return of the master of the house ( Matthew 24:50), all described in the preceding text. 619]

616] Ibid.

617] Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew , in The New American Commentary, vol 22, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 370.

618] Ironside, Expository Notes on the Gospel of Matthew , 328-9.

619] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 53.

"go ye out to meet him" - Morris says the phrase "for a meeting of him" is often used in reference to the arrival of magistrates and dignitaries, as in verse 1, and is used in this same sense to meet the bridegroom. 620]

620] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 622.

Matthew 25:7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

Matthew 25:7 — "Then all those virgins" - Comments- In Matthew 25:7 the bridesmaids arise and prepare themselves. Nolland says the phrase "all those" is emphatic, meaning all ten of the maidens began their task of preparing themselves for the coming of the bridegroom. 621]

621] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1007.

"arose" - Comments- Jeremias suggests the maidens slept with their torches burning because of the difficulty of rekindling them in haste. 622]

622] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 175.

"and trimmed their lamps" - Word Study on "trimmed" - Strong says the Greek word κοσμέ ω (G 2885) means, "to put in proper order, decorate." The Enhanced Strong says it is used 10 times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as, "adorn 5, garnish 4, trim 1."

Comments- The trimming of the torches meant cutting off loose edges of the rags and saturating them with fresh oil. 623] If lamps are understood, they must extinguish the smoldering wicks, fill the lamps, and reinsert or adjust the wicks. 624] It is in the process of preparing their torches, or lamps, that the foolish virgins realize the crisis in which they have put themselves. Augustine and Cyril of Alexandria believed the trimming of the lamps by the ten virgins represents the time when all believers will prepare themselves to stand before the Lord and give account of their lives; thus the extinguished lamps indicate those who have no good works to present to the Lord. At this time it is impossible to make-up for lost service, just as the foolish virgins were not able to borrow oil from the wise. 625]

623] MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 89.

624] Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew , 348.

625] Simonetti, Matthew 14-28, 214-20.

Matthew 25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

Matthew 25:8Comments- Matthew 25:8 reveals the dilemma of the foolish maidens. They had used up their oil and had none to relight their torches, so they request some from the others. Up to this point the ten maidens all appeared to be the same in their behaviour. 626] But now there is an obvious distinction made in the parable, since five did not prepare themselves with the oil to go out and meet the bridegroom when the time had come. Blomberg believes this parable could have made its point without verses 8-9. Therefore, the oil must add some significance to the story. He says the three most popular interpretations throughout the centuries have been "good works, saving faith or grace, and the Holy Spirit". He suggests the oil cannot be allegorized, but rather, carries this incident carries a broader interpretation that includes anything it takes to make one ready for the Second Coming, and it must be something of spiritual significance that cannot be shared between others. 627] G. H. Lang notes that the Scriptures sometime depict a burning lamp as a symbol of the public witness by believers ( Matthew 5:16, Philippians 2:15-16), with the light described in Psalm 119:105 representing the light that guides God's children in the path of faith and obedience. 628] Scholars suggest these ancient torches were able to burn from fifteen minutes up to several hours. 629] Morris believes the progressive present tense in this verse means their lamps were going out while they were asking oil from the other five wise maidens. 630] Plummer suggests the demise of these lamps reflects the dullness and inefficiency of "outward religion" in the presence of the Lord. 631] Hagner compares this description to Proverbs 13:9 and Job 18:5 as figurative of the light of the wicked going out. 632] MacArthur compares these panic-stricken maidens to those people who will realize their lack of spiritual life with Christ at the time of Christ's Second Coming. 633]

626] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 623.

627] Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables, 196.

628] G. H. Lang, Pictures and Parables: Studies in the Parabolic Teaching of Holy Scripture (London: Paternoster Press, 1955), 317.

629] Newman, A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew , 788; Luz, Matthew 21-28: A Commentary, 228-9.

630] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 623.

631] Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew , 345.

632] Hagner, Matthew 14-28, S 683

633] MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 90.

These five foolish virgins were also lazy sluggards, according to Proverbs 13:4.

Proverbs 13:4, "The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat."

Matthew 25:9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

Matthew 25:9 — "But the wise answered, saying, Not so" - Comments- The second scene closes in Matthew 25:9 with the wise bridesmaids denying what they perceive as a foolish request. Newman prefers the emphatic "No!" in translating their reply rather than the softer "perhaps." 634]

634] Newman and Stine, A Translator's Handbook on the Gospel of Matthew , 791.

"lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves" - Comments- It would have been a disaster if all ten torches were to go out, since sharing the oil meant none of them had enough to reach their destination. 635] This confusion in the darkness would have disrupted the joyful atmosphere of the processional and wedding feast. Plummer and MacArthur understand this statement to mean a believer's spirituality cannot be shared with another person. 636] In other words, each person will be judged based upon his/her own personal relationship with the Lord because God's grace cannot be imparted by a person. The wise bridesmaids then instruct the foolish to go buy their own oil. Epiphanus understands the reply of the wise virgins reflects the fear that believer will have at the resurrection and judgment, being concerned whether his works will be accepted or not. Augustine makes a similar statement about the wise virgins, "yet in that judgment even his good conscience trembles." 637] MacArthur interprets the buying of the oil to represent the experience of obtaining salvation, referring to the Parables of the Treasure in the Field and the Pearl of Great Price ( Matthew 13:44-46) as allegorical of a similar purchase, and he uses Isaiah 55:1 as a supporting verse where God invites Israel to come and purchase wine and milk without money or cost. 638] In contrast, Blomberg does not believe the oil should be allegorized because such things associated with the oil cannot be purchased. 639] There may have been other options for these maidens in solving their dilemma, but Morris points out the purpose of the parable is to teach about the need for preparedness at Jesus' Second Coming, and not on sacrificial giving. 640]

635] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 624.

636] Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew , 345; MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 90.

637] Simonetti, Matthew 14-28, 214-20.

638] MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 91.

639] Blomberg, Matthew , 370.

640] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 624.

Matthew 25:10 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.

Matthew 25:10 — "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came" - Comments- The third scene opens in verse ten with the departure of the bridegroom to the wedding feast with those who were ready.

"and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut" - Comments- Harrington says the plural of γάμος (G 1062) (wedding) is a reference to the wedding festivities. 641] Jeremias notes this word refers to the wedding house where festive dancing takes place. 642] Hilary of Poitiers understands this verse to mean the foolish virgins had lost their opportunity. 643]

641] Harrington, The Gospel of Matthew , 348.

642] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 175.

643] Simonetti, Matthew 14-28, 214-20.

Matthew 25:11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

Matthew 25:11Comments- In verse eleven the five foolish maidens return only to find themselves shut out of the wedding feast. This ancient society gave little importance to punctuality, reflected in the fact the bridegroom delays his arrival. 644] The maidens cry out for someone to let them in. Hultgren translates these words as " Sirach , sir." 645] Although though their cries should have been addressed to the porter, the story is about the bridegroom and these five foolish maidens; thus, the girls addressed the bridegroom himself. 646] Scholars note a similar appeal in Matthew 7:21, "Lord, lord…" 647]

644] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 623.

645] Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000; paperback 2002), 175.

646] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 625.

647] Blomberg, Matthew , 370; Hultgren, The Parables of Jesus, 175.

Matthew 25:12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Matthew 25:12Comments- The parable proper ends abruptly in Matthew 25:12 with the bridegroom's firm rejection of both entrance into the wedding for the girls and even a responsibility to consider their request by declaring no knowledge of them. These girls would have been allowed into the feast in this oriental culture, since the entire community was usually invited to local weddings. Such a reply certainly shocked Jesus' disciples. 648] This type of community participation is reflected in the Parable of the Wedding Feast ( Matthew 22:1-14) and in the Parable of the Great Banquet ( Luke 14:16-24), where the host invites everyone who was willing to attend. But participation is exclusive in this parable because the laws are different in the Kingdom of God; for there will be no more opportunity for those who are unprepared at Jesus' Coming. The phrase "Verily I say unto you" shows the certainty of his rejection of this reasonable request and there is no consideration taken in their behalf. A few scholars believe the phrase "I know you not" is a rabbinic formula meaning, "I will have nothing to do with you," but fail to comment on this rabbinic significance. 649] Most commentators believe the phrase "I never knew you" addresses those who have never truly been saved. Morris says the phrase is intended on being devastating to the girls as well as Jesus' audience. 650] It is certain this shocking reply supports the concluding point Jesus is about to make to make in Matthew 25:13, that His disciples must at all costs be ready for His Coming, for their will be no second chance. Jeremias understands it as a reference to the final Judgment, and finds a parallel passage to this conclusion in Luke 13:24-30, which reveals the evil deeds of those who were shut out. 651] J. F. Walvoord believes this parable is about the Second Coming from the context of the Olivet Discourse, and not the Rapture of the Church, by referring to the opening word "then". 652] A less popular view is to understand Matthew 25:13 as a reference to the Rapture, which leads to the "partial rapture theory". 653] This discrepancy can be resolved by interpreting the Second Coming of Jesus for the Church as the Rapture, and the Second Coming for all others as His coming at the end of the Tribulation Period.

648] Blomberg, Matthew , 370-1; Luz, Matthew 21-28: A Commentary, 232.

649] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 175; H. Benedict Green, The Gospel According to Matthew in the Revised Standard Version, in The New Clarendon Bible (New Testament), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), 205.

650] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 625.

651] Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 175.

652] J. F. Walvoord, "Christ's Olivet Discourse on the End of the Age: The Parable of the Ten Virgins," Bibliotheca Sacra 129 (1972): 101.

653] Although it is generally believed that all saints will take part in the Rapture of the church, a few interpret the Parable of the Ten Virgins to teach that some believers will miss the Rapture. This is the called Partial Rapture Theory, and it states that only those who have been faithful will experience this event based upon the numerous passages where Jesus tells His disciples to watch and be ready, because they do not know the day or hour of His Return. Walvoord lists passages commonly used to support this theory as Matthew 24:40-51; 25:13; Mark 13:33-37; Luke 20:34-36; 21:36; Philippians 3:10-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:24-28; Revelation 3:3, 12:1-6. See John F. Walvoord, "Premillennialism and the Tribulation- Part V: Partial Rapture Theory," Bibliotheca Sacra 112:447 (July 1955): 193-208. Lang argues that the fact that all ten are virgins, and all have access to lamps and oil means that they have all be regenerated and are genuine believers. He then explains that the lack of oil teaches how a Christian cannot live on his past experiences, and finally states that all the foolish virgins had done no more than miss the wedding feast, thus implying his support of this theory. See Lang, Pictures and Parables, 316-20.

Matthew 25:12Scripture Reference- Note:

Matthew 7:23, "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Matthew 25:13 — "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour" - Comments- In Matthew 25:13 Jesus states the conclusion of this parable with a warning to be watchful, since the day and hour of His Return are unknown. The message in Matthew 25:13 is used as a link to the common theme of the other two adjacent parables. 654] The word "watch" is thematic, being used earlier in Matthew 24:42-43, and references to the day and hour of the Second Coming are reflected in Matthew 24:36; Matthew 24:38; Matthew 24:44; Matthew 24:50; Song of Solomon , that this theme is woven throughout this part of Jesus' discourse. 655] Another key thematic word is "ready," repeated in Matthew 24:44 and Matthew 25:10. The warning message woven within this discourse is that everyone must be ready and watching for the Second Coming, for it will take place when a person least expects it ( Matthew 24:44; Matthew 24:50), with the general time being known from the signs described in Matthew 24:2-29. 656] Only the Father knows the exact time of His Second Coming, not the angels or Jesus Himself. Blomberg believes this closing statement means the Church is to always conduct itself in a way that keeps itself prepared to meet the Lord no matter whether it is sooner or later. 657] He gives practical illustrations of those who are not ready, such as the one who begins enthusiastically, but soon grows discouraged with serving the Lord, or the person who is hurt and becomes offended. Morgan interprets "watch" as a warning to have enough oil, which is the supply of the Holy Spirit, or a life daily yielded to the Spirit. 658]

654] Nolland, The Gospel of Matthew - A Commentary on the Greek Text, 1010.

655] Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew , 625.

656] MacArthur, Matthew 24-28, 84.

657] Blomberg, Preaching the Parables: 193; Blomberg, Interpreting the Parables, 195.

658] Morgan, The Parables and Metaphors of Our Lord, 151.

"wherein the Son of man cometh" - Comments- Bruce Metzger says the clause "wherein the Son of man cometh" (KJV) was a later "pedantic addition" made by copyists who took this phrase from Matthew 24:44. 659]

659] Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Corrected edition, (London: United Bible Society, 1975), 63.


Verses 14-30

The Parable of the Talents ( Luke 19:11-27) - In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus gives His disciples a second parable to illustrate to them how to prepare themselves for His Second Coming. This refers to the event that will come at the end of the seven-year Tribulation Period in which Christ will return and set up His earthly kingdom and rule from Jerusalem for a thousand years. This parable is about being responsible and about how God wants us to spend our time… wisely.

In the Parable of the Talents the work of servants in Matthew 25:14-18 to gain more for their master could represent our life on earth before the Day of Judgment when God's servants are to faithful with the gifts and anointings imparted unto them. Matthew 25:19-30 could represent the Lord"s Second Coming and the Judgment Seat of Christ where every believer will be judged. This time of judgment stands in contrast to the Great White Throne Judgment that takes place at the end of the thousand-year Millennial Reign of Christ, where all sinners will be judged and cast into the lake of fire for eternity ( Matthew 25:31-40).

Principles of Stewardship- As a station manager of Lighthouse Television, I manage a team of marketing agents, or sales agents. When we terminated the marketing manager, I had to make a decision on how to distribute her clients. One of the directors suggested that I distribute them equally among the existing agents and I requested to follow the principle found in the Parable of the Talents. Upon their approval, I quickly gave the most important clients to one particular marketing agent who had exhibited much marketing skills and loyalty. I found that this person managed these important clients well while others were slothful with even their small clients. This skilled marketing agent began to bring in over seventy-five percent of the monthly sales and make a lot of money. However, I promised him that I would never place him on a set salary for making too much money. I gave him the opportunity and liberty to make as much money as he wanted. Sometimes, the other agents complained and wanted good clients. I was never moved by such complaints as I examined their lesser skills. At one meeting on June 14, 2004 I read the Parable of the Talents. In the place of the word "talents," I put "clients." In the place of the word "lord" I used the word "boss." In other words, I paraphrased this passage of Scripture so that they clearly understood how I thought and how I handed out walk-in clients to particular marketing agents based upon their monthly sales. No one in that meeting could criticize this principle that I placed before them, because it was so true to their daily work environment.

Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Matthew 25:14 — "For the kingdom of heaven is as" - Comments- This passage is a comparison to Jesus' Second Coming. His second coming is a vital part of the topic of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 25:14 — "delivered unto them his goods" - Comments- God owns everything and what we have has been delivered, or loaned, to us for a season.

Matthew 25:14Comments- In the Parable of the Talents, the context of the passage is Jesus" Second Coming, when the faithful shall receive their rewards ( Luke 14:14), and when the wicked shall receive their surprises.

Luke 14:14, "And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."

Matthew 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

Matthew 25:15Word Study on "several" - Webster says the English word "several" means, "separate; distinct, particular, single."

Matthew 25:15Comments- The different amounts of talents of this parable can represent the things in this life that God has given to us as stewards. For example, these talents can be figurative of the gifts and callings that God places upon our lives ( Romans 12:6).

Romans 12:6, "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;"

Some people are saved while they are young and therefore, they have a lifetime to begin serving God. Others are saved late in life, with only a few short years left to serve the Lord. Still others are saved with lots of material wealth to contribute to the kingdom of God, etc.

Matthew 25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

Matthew 25:16Comments- One pastor from Denver, Colorado named Gerald Garzia explained to me that our work in serving the Lord is like doing business in the secular world. If a person makes wise business decisions, the business prospers. Each decision is basically the act of trading one commodity for another. When a person learns how to trade so that each transaction is a gain and not a loss, then the business prospers. In the same way, the Lord gives us talents, or commodities, in which to trade. Pastor Garzia explained it by saying that we can trade in our sin for righteousness, and we trade in doubt and unbelief for faith in God's Word. We trade in depression for joy, sorrow for peace and hypocrisy for sincerity. In all of this trading, we find ways to serve the Lord. In the end, we prosper in Christian service much like a business prospers through trade.

Matthew 25:17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

Matthew 25:17Comments- These first two servants became busy for their lord, knowing that he wanted to receive the gain on their talents.

Matthew 25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord"s money.

Matthew 25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

Matthew 25:19 — "and reckoneth with them" - Word Study on "reckoneth" - Strong says the Greek word συναί ρω (G 4868) means, "to make up together, to compute." The Enhanced Strong says this word is used 3times in the New Testament, being translated in the KJV as, "take 1, reckon 1, reckon + 30561."

Comments- This reckoning is referred to in Hebrews 4:13, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."

Matthew 25:19Illustration- When I leave the television station in Uganda and travel to the U.S, I hand over money and other items to several faithful staff members. When I return I sit down with each one of them separately I receive back what I handed to them. I reconcile the money and expense report with them. When the expenses reconcile with the cash properly, I am pleased with them. If there is a discrepancy, then I make them give an account.

Matthew 25:20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

Matthew 25:20Comments- What talents, or responsibilities, does God give us today? These talents can be summed up in four areas of our life: our relationship to God, to our family, to our church body and to our work environment and those outside the body of Christ.

1. Relationship to God- This is our relationship with God through Bible study, prayer, church attendance and doing God"s Word.

2. Relationship to Family- This is our relationship with a husband, a wife and children. The husband provides "food, raiment and the duty of marriage" ( Exodus 21:10). He teaches the children about godliness and he works on a job to provide for his family.

Exodus 21:10, "If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish."

3. Relationship to Church- This is our relationship with our pastor and fellow believers. We give tithes, offerings and we assemble together.

4. Relationship to Those Outside the Body of Christ - This is our relationship with those at work and others who are outside the body of Christ.

If a person will be faithful in these four areas of his life, he will not have time to become idle, nor will he have time to busy himself with nonsense, as does the busy secular world.

Talents can represent souls, Wisdom of Solomon , gifts, anointings, and many other things. For example, a shepherd, or pastor, has been entrusted with God's flock or sheep ( Ezekiel 34:4, 1 Samuel 12:23).

Ezekiel 34:4, "The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them."

1 Samuel 12:23, "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:"

Matthew 25:21 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.

Matthew 25:21; Matthew 25:23 — "I will make thee ruler over many things" - Comments- One of our rewards is to be able to rule and reign with Christ Jesus on this earth ( Revelation 20:4).

Revelation 20:4, "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

Matthew 25:24Word Study on "strawed" - Webster says the English word "straw" means, "To spread or scatter."

Matthew 25:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

Matthew 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

Matthew 25:26Comments- Note that this word "slothful" is the opposite of "faithful." A faithful servant cannot be lazy in the things of God. Note how hard of a worker the servant was towards his master in the parable of the unprofitable servant ( Luke 17:5-10). The servant in this passage may have been a hard pursuer, or worker, in the cares of this world ( Mark 4:19). So much so that he had no time for God's work anymore. We must be busy about the work of the Lord, "full of good works" as it says in Acts 9:36. Romans 16:6; Romans 16:12 (many hard workers in church at Rome). Also, we are to be full of the Holy Ghost in Wisdom of Solomon , faith and power ( Acts 6:3; Acts 6:5; Acts 6:8; Acts 11:24). You cannot be slothful in the things of God.

Mark 4:19, "And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."

Acts 9:36, "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did."

Romans 16:6, "Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us."

Romans 16:12,"Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord."

Acts 6:3, "Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and Wisdom of Solomon , whom we may appoint over this business."

Acts 6:5, "And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philippians , and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:"

Acts 6:8, "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people."

Acts 11:24, "For he was a good Prayer of Manasseh , and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord."

Matthew 25:27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

Matthew 25:27Word Study on "exchangers" - Gesenius says the Greek word τραπεζίτης (G 5133) means, "money-changer, banker," which may have been derived from the Greek word τράπεζα (G 5132), referring to the dinner table on which a meal was placed, and also refers to the table used by the money-changers (Gesenius, Strong). For example, Luke uses τράπεζα (table) in the Parable of the Pounds figuratively to refer to the place where interest is gained by doing business with the money changers ( Luke 19:23). Although the KJV translates τράπεζα as "bank" in Luke 19:23, the word actually refers to the table used these ancient businesses of exchanging currency. We find a description of these money-changers working at their tables in Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15 and John 2:15, where the Scriptures tell us that Jesus cast them out of the Temple for bringing their business into this sacred place of prayer.

While the Greek word τραπεζίτης refers to a money-changer or banker, the Scriptures also use the Greek word κολλυβιστή ς (G 2855) to refer to a "money-changer" (Gesenius), or more literally, "a coin-dealer" (Strong), who sat at these τράπεζα (tables) to do business (see Matthew 21:12, Mark 11:15 John 2:15).

Luke 19:23, "Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?"

Matthew 21:12, "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,"

Mark 11:15, :And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;"

John 2:15, "And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers" money, and overthrew the tables;"

Comments - There was a need to change money change in Palestine because of the various currencies used throughout the Empire, such as the Roman denarius, the Greek drachma and tetradrachma, and the Phoenician coins. Thus, Jews coming from the Diaspora to Jerusalem would bring an array of currency that needed to be exchanged in order to pay the customary half shekel annual temple tax for all males above the age of twenty ( Exodus 30:11-15). 660] In additional money changing, A. R. S. Kennedy says the wealthy members of this profession developed a business system in which people could deposit their money with them in order to gain interest. 661] This type of usury would describe what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 25:27 and Luke 19:24.

660] Edward Bagby Pollard, "Money-changers," in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, c 1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

661] A. R. S. Kennedy, "Money-changers," in A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing with its Language, Literature, and Contents Including the Biblical Theology, vol 3, ed. James Hastings and John A. Selbie (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1901), 432-433.

Money finds its greatest value, not in being hoarded, but by placing it in circulation so that it may gain profit to its owner. A healthy economy is one where money is being exchanged and spent. Regarding the kingdom of God, we are to invest our material wealth into the kingdom of God, rather than hoarding it for ourselves.

Matthew 25:30Comments- Note The phrase "outer darkness" is used three times in the Scriptures and is unique to the Gospel of Matthew ( Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30). The identification of this place does not necessarily refer to Hell. The parable tells us that the Lord gave one talent unto one of his servant. This would represent a believer and not a sinner, but an unfaithful believer with the goods that God had given to this servant to use in the work of the kingdom.

In his book The Final Quest Rick Joyner likens the five foolish virgins to those Christians who get saved, but do not live for the Lord. They live for themselves and do know the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. When they appear before the judgment seat of Christ, they will suffer tremendous grief for not having known the Lord through the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is meant by the statement, "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." They will suffer the loss of all things, except their souls, according to 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. Rick Joyner met them on the way to the throne in a place distant from the throne called "outer darkness." One witness to him called it the "lowest part of Heaven." 662]

662] Rick Joyner, The Final Quest (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1977), 86-90.

However, we find the phrase "outer darkness" in the New Testament Apocrypha writing The Revelation of Paul. In this ancient writing it is used to describe the place where scornful sinners are taken after death to be tormented by the angel Tartaruch.

"Let him therefore be handed over to the angel Tartaruch, who is set over the punishments, and let him place him in outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and let him be there till the great day of judgment. And after these things I heard the voice of angels and archangels saying: Thou art just, Lord, and thy judgment is just." (The Revelation of Paul 16) (ANF 8)


Verses 31-46

The Judgment of the Nations - The passage in Matthew 25:31-46 is popularly called the Judgment of the Nation. In this passage Jesus tells His disciples what will take place immediately following His Second Coming. We know that at His Second Coming He will set up His kingdom on earth and rule and reign from Jerusalem for a thousand years, which we call the Millennial Reign of Christ. At this time He will judge the nations upon the earth as a part of establishing His reign upon the earth.

The Central Message of the Parable- Regarding the message in this parable of the Judgment of the Nations, we understand that our service in the Kingdom of Heaven can be summed up in Proverbs 14:31, which emphasizes the need to care for the weak and poor.

Proverbs 14:31, "He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor."

Matthew 25:32 — "as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats" - Comments- I drove through a small flock of goats yesterday, about a dozen of them crossing the road near my home. But as I took a second glance, I noticed a few sheep among them. Here in Africa the domesticated goats and sheep frequently graze together so that they become adapted to one another in their daily routine of grazing and moving about. This must have been typical of shepherds in Jesus' day as well in His description of separating the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:32.

Matthew 25:40Comments- Note that the sheep were givers. They lived a life of giving to the needs of others. The goats were not so. They never saw the need to give.

Matthew 25:46Comments- Matthew 25:46 teaches us that Hell is an everlasting punishment. It will have no end. The reason is because God has no beginning and no end. He is everlasting. He will always be a God of judgment.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Matthew 25:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/matthew-25.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 7th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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