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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Matthew 25



Verse 1

Matthew 25:1. [ τότε, then) sc. when the last day is close at hand.—B. G. V.]— δέκα, ten) There is a mystery in this number, employed also in Luke 19:13, and in its division here into two equal parts.(1077) The bride in ancient times had always ten virgins, at least, as bridesmaids.(1078) We do not possess many remains by which to illustrate this parable from Jewish antiquities. It is better to compare it with Psalms 45 and the Book of Canticles.— λαμπάδσς, lamps) i.e. burning.— ἐξῆλθον, went forth) i.e. engaged to go forth; see Matthew 25:6.— τοῦ νυμφίου, the Bridegroom) See Luke 12:36.

Verse 2

Matthew 25:2. φρόνιμοιμωραὶ, prudent—foolish) See ch. Matthew 7:24; Matthew 7:26.— καὶ αἱ πέντε μωραί, and the five other foolish) Their condition becomes better understood from the description given of the prudent.(1079)

Verse 3

Matthew 25:3. ἔλαιον, oil) i.e. except that with which the lamps were then burning: see latter part of Matthew 25:8. The lamp burning is faith; the lamp with oil beside is abundant faith.(1080)

Verse 4

Matthew 25:4. ἀγγείοις, vessels) These represent the recesses of the heart.

Verse 5

Matthew 25:5. ἐνύσταξαν, dozed) The Hebrew verb נום, to slumber or doze, is rendered by the LXX., νυστάζειν. Dozing takes place, either after sleep, as in Proverbs 6:10, or before it, as in Isaiah 5:27, which is the case in the present passage.—[ πᾶσαι, all) The prudent also fell asleep, and that not without peril; but when they awoke, they had still oil enough. During the sleep of those, who have not previously enough thereof, their oil comes to an end.—B. G. V.]

Verse 6

Matthew 25:6. ΄έσης δὲ νυκτὸς, but at midnight) i.e. during the deep sleep of even these virgins.— κραυγὴ, a cry) sc. to arouse them, accompanied by the blast of a trumpet.(1081)

Verse 7

Matthew 25:7. ἠγέρθησαν, were aroused) sc. from sleep.— πᾶσαι, all) Then will the evil and the careless also(1082) awake. All things will be awakened. By how very little the foolish missed of entering in, and yet they are shut out.(1083)

Verse 8

Matthew 25:8. σβέννυνται, are being extinguished(1084)) this very moment, miserably.

Verse 9

Matthew 25:9. λέγουσαι, κ. τ. λ., saying, etc.) In this, as in everything else, they showed themselves prudent.— μήτοτε, κ. τ. λ., lest, etc.) A broken(1085) sentence, suitable to the hurry of that event.— οὐκ ἀρκέσῃ, there be not sufficient) sc. for both you and us: i.e. we cannot share with you: a metonomy of the consequent [for the antecedent]. Every one must live by his own faith.— ἡμῖν, for us) The prudent now have hardly(1086) enough for their own use. You ought previously to have followed the example of the prudent.— πορεύεσθε, κ. τ. λ., go ye, etc.) Let us do in time what will then prove to have been wise.— πρὸς τοὺς πωλοῦντας, to them that sell) although they are not traders [i.e. do not make salvation a matter of traffic].— ἀγοράσατε, buy) See Revelation 3:18.

Verse 10

Matthew 25:10. ἀπερχομένων δὲ αὐτῶν, but whilst they were going) Their danger arose from the circumstance on which they asked advice.(1087)αἱ ἕτοι΄αι, they that were ready) The prudent were ready.(1088)

Verse 11

Matthew 25:11. αἱ λοιπαὶ παρθένοι, the other virgins) To whom the name of virgins was now of no avail.

Verse 13

Matthew 25:13. γρηγορεῖτε, watch ye) He who watches will have not only his lamp burning, but also oil in his vessel: he who has oil in his vessel is not greatly held, even by sleep; see Matthew 25:5.

Verse 14

Matthew 25:14.— ὑπάρχοντα, goods) For the distribution of them, see the next verse.(1089)

Verse 15

Matthew 25:15. ἔδωκε, κ. τ. λ., gave, etc.) He left them free to choose their method of trafficking without saying, “Give to the bankers.”— πέντεδύοἕν, five—two—one) A parable nearly resembling this occurs in Luke 19:13, where one pound is given to each servant, and the pound of the first produced ten, of the second five, of the third none. The goods which God gives are distributed equitably: and who knows whether, in all their inequality, the most scantily provided is surpassed by the richest more than by five parts? We may compare with this the circumstance, that Plato, in his book on Laws, has not permitted any citizen to possess an income more than five times that of the poorest. See Arist. Polit. ii. 5. A. Ruimer, the Flemish preacher, was of opinion that the Reformed Church had five talents, the Lutheran two, the Roman one. What has the Greek? What have other churches, ancient and modern? What has posterity?— δύναμιν, ability) sc. for trafficking. No one is required to do more than he is able; therefore he is rightfully compelled to render an account.— εὐθέως, immediately, straightway) See the two following chapters.

Verse 18

Matthew 25:18. ἀπέκρυψε, hid) sc. in the earth; see Matthew 25:25.

Verse 19

Matthew 25:19. ΄ετὰ δὲ χρόνον πολὺν, but after a long time) So that there had been time enough to double the capital entrusted. The quickness of the Lord’s Advent is not absolute.

Verse 20

Matthew 25:20. προσελθὼν, coming up to Him) sc. with confidence. The bad servant did so with diffidence; Matthew 25:24.— τὰ πέντε τάλαντα λαβὼν, he that had received the five talents) The righteous receive sentence before the wicked: cf. Matthew 25:34.— ἵδε, See!) The freedom of speech of a good servant.— ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς, on them) The servant does not attribute the gain to himself, but to his Lord’s goods.

Verse 21

Matthew 25:21. εὖ, well-done) A formula of praising. This praise is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 4:5.— ἀγαθὲ, good) opposed to πονηρὲ, (1090)(1091)(1092), in Matthew 25:26.— πιστὲ, faithful) opposed to ὀκνηρὲ, slothful, in Matthew 25:26. Faith drives away sloth.— ὀλίγα, few) If five talents are few, how great will be the amount of the πολλὰ, many!καταστἠσω, I will appoint) Thou art fit for more, thou art trusty (frugi), opposed to ἀχρεῖον, unprofitable, in Matthew 25:30.— εἴσελθε, enter thou!) opposed to ἐκβάλετε, cast ye forth, in Matthew 25:30.— χαρὰν, joy) sc. the banquet, the feast:(1093) light, laughter, applause. Cf. Matthew 25:30.

“Convivium, festin: lusum, risum, plausum;” where the introduction of the French word FESTIN strikes one as strange.—(I. B.)

Verse 24

Matthew 25:24. ἔγνων σε, κ. τ. λ., I knew thee, etc.) He does not know the Lord who thinks Him hard. God is LOVE.(1094) Righteousness appears unrighteousness to the ungodly. The justice of God transcends the comprehension of the creature.— σκληρὸς, hard) In Luke 19:21, we find αὐστηρὸς, austere.—This Lord was not such; but let those earthly lords who really are so, consider what servant they will resemble on the judgment day.— οὐ διεσκόρπισας, thou hast not strawed) Though, in reality, God bestows all things liberally.

Verse 25

Matthew 25:25. φοβηθεὶς, being frightened) Without love, without confidence; q.d. “fearing that I should not satisfy Thee, that I might be compelled to spend somewhat from my own stock, that I might, vainly endeavour to bring aught from the field where the crop did not seem worthy of Thee, into the barn whence nothing of Thine appeared to have been strawed.” The wicked and slothful servant, whilst he imagined his Master to be one who would require excessive gain, beyond the strength of His servant, did not even obtain that legitimate profit which he might have obtained. Do what thou canst, and what thou art commanded; await success, and thou shalt be astonished at it.— ἔκρυψα, I hid) Contrast with this Psalms 40:10-11.(1095)

Verse 27

Matthew 25:27. οὖν, κ. τ. λ., therefore, etc.) The goodness of the Lord remains unknown to the wicked servant, by whom it had been denied.— βαλεῖν, to have put out) The labour of digging was greater than this would have been; see Matthew 25:18.— τὸ ἐμὸν, Mine) corresponding with τὸ σόν, Thine, in Matthew 25:25; but in this instance the words σὺν τὀκῳ, with interest, are added.(1096)

Verse 29

Matthew 25:29. τῷ γὰρ ἔχοντι παντὶ, κ. τ. λ., for to every one that hath, etc.) So that the more he has, the more will be given to him.— ἔχει, that which he hath) The servant actually had had the talent; see Matthew 25:24.

Verse 30

Matthew 25:30. ἀχρεῖον, unprofitable) sc. now and hereafter;(1097) cf. Gnomon on Matthew 25:21, and Luke 16:11.— ἀχρεῖος is in Attic Greek written ἄχρειος, according to Eustathius.— ἐκβάλετε, κ. τ. λ., cast forth, etc.) There is a contrast between this and Matthew 25:21. The Lord Himself commands [the good servants] to enter; He desires His attendants to cast out [the unprofitable one], as in ch. Matthew 22:13.(1098)

ἀχρεῖος, though translated by Bengel, unprofitable, useless, is not to be confounded with ἄχρηστος, which more strictly expresses that meaning. A slave that has done all that his master commands is ἀχρεῖος, not in the sense that he is worthless, useless, which could not be said of such a servant, but he is one οὗ οὐκ ἔστι χρεία, a person to whom the master owes nothing, with whom he could dispense, Acts 17:25. God receives no benefit from man for which He owes a return, Luke 17:10. Here, in Matthew 25:30, though the servant had been also ἄχρηστος, unprofitable, useless, and slothful, yet the idea conveyed by the ἀχρεῖος is not this, but its consequence: for he who is useless by doing no work is not wanted (the latter expressing the true force of ἀχρεῖος:). The ἄχρηστος, besides being useless, causes also loss to his master. See Tittm. Syn. Gr. Test.—ED.

Verse 31

Matthew 25:31. ἐν τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ, in His glory) concerning which so many things have been foretold.— καὶ πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι ἄγγελοι μετʼ αὐτοῦ, and all the holy angels with Him) We must not here suppose ἔλθωσι, shall come, to be understood; but the nominative must be taken absolutely according to the Hebrew idiom, and rendered, all the angels accompanying Him.— πάντες, all) Add all nations from Matthew 25:32. All angels; all nations. How vast an assembly!— τότε, then) As has been foretold. The disciples thought that this would take place immediately.

Verse 32

Matthew 25:32. ἀφοριεῖ, he shall separate) The separation will not be complete before then.

Verse 33

Matthew 25:33. ἐρίφια, kidlings) A diminutive. Although giants, they will be kidlings. They will not then be אלים, mighty, and עתורים, he-goats.(1099)

Perhaps Bengel’s language will not appear so inappropriate when compared with that of Scripture, to which he evidently alludes. Isaiah 14:11, “Hell from beneath stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones [Hebr. leaders; lit. great goats] of the earth.” Comp. Ezekiel 34:17; Zechariah 10:3.—ED.

Verse 34

Matthew 25:34. τότε, κ. τ. λ., then, etc.) cf. this address with that to the kids [Eng. Vers., goats] in Matthew 25:41.

Here, Come:

There, Depart from me:

ye blessed of my Father;

ye cursed:

inherit the kingdom:

into the fire:

prepared for you:

prepared for the devil and his angels:

from the foundation of the world.

eternal. (so called in ver. 46).

βασιλεὺς, the King) an appellation full of majesty, and joyful only to the godly; see Matthew 25:40.— τοῦ πατρός ΄ου, of My Father) We have been chosen in Christ.— κληρονομήσατε, inherit) Therefore the γὰρ, for, in the next verse ought not to be pressed too much.— ἡτοιμασμένην, prepared) There is an intimate relation between this verb and the noun καταβολὴ, foundation.— ὑμῖν, for you) Therefore elect men have not supplied the place of the angels who sinned.— ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, from the foundation of the world) The preposition ἀπὸ, from, corresponds with the Hebrew מ, which signifies before; cf. Ephesians 1:4. When good and bad are compared together, good is frequently described by eternity, so to speak, antecedent; bad, by its hereafter: thus it is in this verse; cf. Matthew 25:41, and 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:6.

Verse 35

Matthew 25:35. ἐδώκατέ, κ. τ. λ., ye have given, etc.(1100)) Of all good and bad actions, those will be especially mentioned which have been performed to the saints, which presuppose faith and love towards Jesus Christ and His brethren, and involve confession of His name, which are most frequent, and remarkable, and conspicuous; and then, from the manifest glory of the Lord, the dignity of His brethren, and the character of good and evil actions towards them, will be manifest; cf. ch. Matthew 10:40-41. This discourse exhibits simultaneously the former misery and excellence of the saints, the former ability and wickedness of the ungodly, and the most righteous recompense of both. Of the works of mercy, however, those only which have been done to the body are mentioned, which are both more despised in the world, and will then be a more evident specimen of faith, inasmuch as a man in them expends somewhat of his material resources and trouble (whereas those which concern the spirit are without expense), and will come more sensibly under the observation of the wicked. Nor was it suitable to the Judge to say: “I have erred, I have sinned, and you have recalled me,”(1101) etc.— ΄οι, to Me) This presupposes faith, for the faithful perform acts of kindness on this ground.— ἐδίψησα, κ. τ. λ., I was thirsty, etc.) Such is the condition of the faithful in this life: hunger, thirst, nakedness, captivity, etc.— συνηγάγετε, ye took (Me) in) The LXX. use the same verb in Judges 19:15; Judges 19:18.

Verse 37

Matthew 25:37. πότε σὲ εἴδομεν, κ. τ. λ., when saw we Thee, etc.(1102)) The faithful do not estimate their good deeds, nor the wicked their bad (Matthew 25:44), in the same manner as the Judge.

Verse 40

Matthew 25:40. ἐφʼ ὅσον, inasmuch as, in as far as) An intensifying particle. Without doubt, even individual acts will be brought forward.— ἑνὶ, unto one) All things are accurately reckoned up; nothing is omitted. Even a solitary occasion is frequently of great importance in either direction; see Matthew 25:45.— τούτων, of these) used demonstratively.— τῶν ἀδελφῶν ΄ου, My brethren) It is better to do good to the good than to the wicked; yet these are not excluded from the operation of Christian love (see Matthew 5:44), provided that a due precedence be preserved in the character of the men and works. Men, the more that they are honoured, treat so much the more proudly those with whom they are connected (suos): not so Jesus: at the commencement of His ministry He frequently called His followers disciples; then, when speaking of His cross (John 13:33), He once called them little sons,(1103) and (John 15:15) friends; after His resurrection (John 21:5), παιδία, children,(1104) and brethren (cf. ch. Matthew 28:10; John 20:17; and cf. therewith Ib. Matthew 13:1); and this appellation He will repeat at the judgment-day. How great is the glory of the faithful! see Hebrews 2:10-12, etc. During the time of His humiliation (exinanitionis) the honour of Jesus was guarded, lest from such an appellation He might appear to be of merely common rank; but in His state of exaltation no such danger exists. Observe, however—(1) that Christ addresses no one as brother in the vocative; the case is different in ch. Matthew 12:48-49, and Hebrews 2:11-12; (2) that Scripture does not call Christ our brother; and (3) that it would not have been suitable in Peter, for example, to have said, Brother, instead of Lord, in John 21:15; John 21:20; John 21:7 (see Ibid. Matthew 13:13). Even James, called by others the Lord’s brother, calls himself the servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, James 1:1. Jude also, in the first verse of his epistle, calls himself the servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James; see also Matthew 23:8; Luke 22:32. Amongst mortals, unequal fraternity is so maintained, that the superior friend honours the inferior by the title of brother; whilst the inferior addresses the superior by his title of honour. Thus also the heavenly court has its own etiquette, without any conflict between humility and confidence. Thus, also, the appellation of friend appears one-sided, so that the Lord calls His own, “friends,” but is not so called by them: see John 15:15. We must except the faith whose freedom of speech attains to that of the Canticles.— τῶν ἐλαχίστων, of the least) sc. outwardly, or even inwardly. A certain species is pointed out in the whole genus of saints: there are some who have received, others who have conferred favours.— ἐμοὶ ἐποιήσατε, ye have done it unto Me) not merely to Me also, but TO ME absolutely; cf. οὐδὲ ἐμοὶ ἐποιήσατε, neither have ye done it unto Me, Matthew 25:45.

Verse 41

Matthew 25:41. τότε, κ. τ. λ., then, etc.) And then the righteous shall immediately, by virtue of the word “come.” sit on kindly thrones (regaliter) as assessors in the judgment on the cursed.— τὸ ἡτοιμασμένον, which is prepared) Thus is Isaiah 30:33. At the time of this judgment the devil will be already in hell; see Revelation 20:10-13; cf. 2 Peter 3:7, fin.

Verse 42

Matthew 25:42. οὐκ, κ. τ. λ., not, etc.) Sins of omission.

Verse 44

Matthew 25:44. καὶ αὐτοὶ, κ. τ. λ., they also, etc.) The process is distinctly described: they will answer either altogether or one by one.— πότε, κ. τ. λ., When, etc.) The ignorance of the wicked, and their endeavour to justify themselves, will remain up to that time.

Verse 45

Matthew 25:45. τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων, of the least of these) Our Lord does not add, My brethren, as in Matthew 25:40. The wicked are ignorant of the relation which the righteous stand in to Christ, and will remain so.

Verse 46

Matthew 25:46. ἀπελεύσονται, shall depart) The place of judgment is distinct from the places into which the two classes will severally depart.— κόλασις, punishment(1105)) There is a difference between τιμωρία, vengeance, and κόλασις, punishment; for punishment is inflicted for the sake of him who suffers: vengeance for the satisfaction of him who inflicts it; see Arist. Rhet. i. 10, n. 31.(1106)αἰώνιον, eternal) Eternal(1107) signifies that which reaches and passes the limits of earthly time: cf. Gnomon on Romans 16:25.— οἱ δὲ, κ. τ. λ., but the, etc.) Christ the King shall first address the righteous, in the hearing of the unrighteous; but the unrighteous shall first depart, in the sight of the righteous; see ch. Matthew 13:49-50. Thus the damned will see nothing of eternal life, though the righteous will see the vengeance inflicted on the damned.— δίκαιοι, righteous) declared to be so by this very judgment.


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 25:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 24th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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