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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament
Matthew 25



Verse 1

The Kingdom of heaven will be like. The third question the disciples asked in Matthew 24:3 was about the end of the world. Chapter 25 is an answer to this. The central idea of this chapter is the wise use of this life in order to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. Ten girls. No special meaning in the number 10, or the fact that they are girls. Who took their oil lamps. The symbolism is taken from Eastern marriage customs. The official "engagement" (see note on Matthew 22:2) was an agreement to marry. When the time came for the Wedding feast, the bridegroom came to the bride's house and took her during the night to his own house. The bridesmaids waited at the bride's house, and escorted the group to the marriage feast. Thus the oil lamps, since it would be at night.

Verse 2

Foolish - wise. Notice the difference in attitude. Compare Matthew 7:21-27.

Verse 3

Did not take any extra oil. These girls started out with full lamps, but no extra in reserve.

Verse 4

While the wise ones took. They were not going to be caught short. [Read Hebrews 6:1-3 and compare.]

Verse 5

The bridegroom was late in coming. Later than they had any reason to expect. To nod and fall asleep. The thought is that the bridegroom would come unexpectedly.

Verse 6

It was already midnight. The hour of quiet sleep. The coming is sudden, unexpected! (Compare Matthew 24:27.)

Verse 7

Trimmed their lamps. The Jewish lamp was a cup filled with oil, and a wick floating on it. After burning some time, the wick would need trimmed and the oil refilled.

Verse 8

Our lamps are going out. They had kept their lamps flickering up to now. Both death and Judgment will show things in their true light.

Verse 9

No, Indeed. The wise girls had none to spare. No one can give surplus righteousness to another. [Except Jesus, of course.] Go . . . buy. Everyone must reach out to Christ with his own faith.

Verse 10

While they were gone. If they had started earlier, they would have had time. The door of the Kingdom is open wide now, but it must close one day.

Verse 11

Sirach, Sir! Let us in! As Augustine says: "They came looking for mercy when it was time for judgment." Compare Luke 13:25.

Verse 12

But I really don't know you. Their right to come in had been forfeited!

Verse 13

Watch out, then. The whole parable illustrates this. APPLICATION. Some understand the parable in this way: The Bridegroom is Christ; the time of the wedding feast is the coming to Judgment; the delay in coming symbolizes the unknown period of time between Christ's first and second comings; the girls represent the waiting church [messianic community]; the wise girls—those who actively live their faith; the foolish girls—those who are indifferent; the midnight cry is death or Judgment; begging for oil is death-bed repentance; the closing of the door means the offer of salvation has been withdrawn. The moral is to act while you can!

Verse 14

It will be like a man. Christ returning to heaven (Acts 1:9). Called his servants. Symbolic of the obligation which Christ placed on his followers (Matthew 28:19-20).

Verse 15

To each one according to his ability. He gives them the amount of responsibility they can use, to carry out his work.

Verse 16

The servant who had received five thousand dollars. He doubled the investment by using his ability wisely.

Verse 17

In the same way. The servant who received two thousand dollars also did well.

Verse 18

But the servant. People commonly hid their money in the ground for safe keeping. This servant's only thought is to preserve what he has. Note that what he does is not illegal, only unwise.

Verse 19

After a long time. This implies the Lord will be late in coming [to our way of thinking]. And settled accounts. At Judgment, our character, our life, and how we have used our opportunities, will all be examined. Revelation 22:12.

Verse 20

The servant. He had doubled what he had received, and hands it to the master.

Verse 21

Well done. Faithfulness in managing small amounts will bring new opportunities.

Verse 22

Then the servant. He also has doubled what he has received.

Verse 23

Well done. Exactly the same reward, even though he was not given the same responsibility. He used what he had well.

Verse 24

Sirach, I know you are a hard man. This is an insult. Many will not work for Christ because they think following him imposes unreasonable demands on their time, talents, money, and life in general.

Verse 25

I was afraid. This is his motivation. Compare 1 John 4:18, Revelation 21:8.

Verse 26

You bad and lazy servant. Not only unfaithful, but insulting. Compare Jude 1:14-16.

Verse 27

You should have deposited. If he had put the money in the bank, he would have at least made something. By hiding it, he even lost the interest the bank would have paid.

Verse 28

Now, take the money away from him. He has failed his trust. An opportunity which is not used, is taken away, and becomes a curse. Give it to the one. Because he has proved his faithfulness.

Verse 29

For to everyone who has. This is a general law of life. Every opportunity used, brings further opportunity. Every opportunity unused, is a step backwards. "Wealth protects the rich man; poverty destroys the poor" (Proverbs 10:15).

Verse 30

Throw him outside in the darkness. This implies total separation from God for those who refuse to love him and do his will (see Matthew 7:21-23).

Verse 31

When the Son of Man. (Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; Revelation 20:11-15.) The Second Coming at the end of the world is meant. As King. He is King now (1 Corinthians 15:25) and has a Kingdom (Colossians 1:13). But at his Second Coming, he will sit on the great white throne as the Judge (compare Acts 17:31),

Verse 32

And all the earth's people. This is the final separation of the good from the bad.

Verse 33

The sheep at his right. The sheep symbolizes the Lord's people. The "right side" is the place of honor (compare Hebrews 12:2).

Verse 34

Then the King will say. Those who have chosen to follow Christ in this present world are called to share Eternity.

Verse 35-36

I was hungry and you fed me. The reason why those on the right receive the eternal kingdom is seen. They had demonstrated their faith by their actions (James 2:14-26). What they had done to fellow-men, they had done to Christ by proxy. These are things which everyone can do. A real, personal service is implied.

Verses 37-39

When, Lord, did we ever see you? Christ has been gone from earth. They did not see him in person.

Verse 40

I tell you, indeed. Compare Matthew 20:25-28. These had acted out what the Lord said, in serving others in the name of Christ. But they had not known that Christ accepted this as personal service to himself. The righteous are: (1) those whose sins are forgiven; (2) those who have lived and acted in the name of Christ; (3) those who have been full of the love of Christ, and who have shared this with others. To love Christ is to love all mankind.

Verse 41

Away from me! The redeemed will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Those who have turned their back to Christ, will be thrown out into the darkness forever! Jesus makes a strong statement of Eternal Punishment for the wicked. Note this was not intended for humans.

Verse 42-43

But you would not. This is the story of their life. They are doomed, not for what they did, but for what they failed to do!

Verse 44

When, Lord, did we ever see you? If they had seen him in all his glory, they would have given him everything they had!

Verse 45

Whenever you refused. Christ came to them in many forms, but they turned him away and closed the door in his face.

Verse 46

Eternal punishment. Eternal life. A separation will take place. Both states will last the same length of time. The choices made in this present world determine which way each of us will be sent.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 25:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 25th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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