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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Matthew 25

 

 

Verses 1-46

"Then," that is, at the time when things must be brought to their proper conclusion, "shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins." These take lamps to go forth to meet the bridegroom. The church is not looked at as the bride here, but from the viewpoint of responsibility to bear a light, a witness for the One who will yet come. The five wise are true believers, the five foolish not so, and got outwardly claiming to be, for they also "go forth to meet the bridegroom," and they carry lamps. But their lamps have no means of shining, since they take no oil (typical of the Holy Spirit) in their vessels, the vessel signifying one's body. For in this present dispensation, "if any one has not the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him" (Romans 8:9). The wise have oil in their vessels, together with their lamps.

In waiting for the bridegroom, however, they all grew heavy and slept. For years the church became insensible to the truth of the Lord's coming, until in the 1800's there was a great awakening as regards this matter of vital importance. No doubt this was the cry at midnight, "Behold the bridegroom; go forth to meet Him." Since that time this has been kept prominently before the eyes of men, whether or not they take it to heart. The virgins have trimmed their lamps, with the object of allowing the light to shine brightly as a witness to their faith in the Lord Jesus.

But it is not enough to have trimmed lamps. The lamp may even look very attractive, but the reason for its existence is that it may produce light; and to do so it requires proper fuel.

The foolish virgins, having no faith, appeal to the wise for oil, for their lamps were going out. Some have claimed because of this that the foolish must have had the Spirit at one time, then lost the Spirit. Of course this is not true, for they took no oil in their vessels. It is possible to light a dry wick, which will flicker briefly with an unpleasant smell, and go out. The unbeliever cannot be a real testimony for Christ.

But the child of God cannot give the Spirit to others: they refer them to the proper sources. As to "buying" the Spirit, the terms are clearly expressed in Isaiah 55:1 : "without money and without price." The foolish going to buy oil does not indicate any real turning to God in their need: to them it evidently seems a mere formality: they procrastinate too long.

The coming of the bridegroom (v.10) is plainly not His coming in judgment, but His coming to rapture Home to His presence His redeemed saints. Being ready, they go in with Him to the marriage. As to this occasion we read of "a door opened in heaven" (Revelation 4:1), and in our present chapter, "the door was shut." No true believer will be missing, but others will be shut out.

Then the foolish pray, but too late: their demand for admittance is denied: He tells them simply, "I know you not." They had no claim of relationship to Him whatever. Verse 13 concludes with the serious warning, "Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour." The last phrase in the King James Version "wherein the Son of man cometh" does not have authority in the original manuscripts: this coming for the church is not His coming as Son of Man.

The parable following also indicates the absence of the Lord for some time in view of a future coming, but adds the aspect of His leaving His servants in charge of His goods. The far country is of course heaven, where He ascended following His resurrection. He has given talents varying according to the ability of each individual. This differs from the pounds of Luke 19:13, each there being given the same.

The measure of gift is different in different cases (Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:4) God knows the ability of each individual, and distributes gift according to this. Ability itself is not gift, but gift is given only as one has ability to use it, though certainly all have ability of some kind.

Of course there are other measures beside the five, two, and one talents, but these are mentioned to illustrate the truth as to all . The five and two are given to true believers, the one talent given to a man who proves to be not saved at all, for he conceals his Lord's talent in the earth, indicative of a mind set on earthly things. Both of the others gain 100% in trading.

The Lord's coming involves a day of reckoning. The re ports of the first two are similar, and the words of the Lord to each are the same, "Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful in a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." What believer does not deeply desire to hear these words from the Lord's lips? This is the proper portion of those who have walked by faith, whatever differences there may have been as regards gift and ability. Here, though the gift is different, the reward is the same. In Luke, where the trust is the same, the reward is different because there are different measures of gain (Ch.19:16-18). There the one pound given to each servant appears to correspond to "the faith which was once delivered to the saints" (Judges 1:3), that is, the precious truth of the word of God, which is the same communicated to all, by which believers gain, but each in differing measure. The reward is an incentive, but it is not the motive of service: the motive the Lord rewards is that of love toward Himself.

The servant who had received the one talent comes last to give account. He excuses himself from any responsibility by claiming to know that the Lord was hard and demanding, on which ground he said he was afraid and therefore hid the talent in the earth. He is a more professor of Christianity, who, though responsible to act for the Lord, does nothing because of his fear of men. The Lord's answer is solemn and to the point, calling the man a wicked and slothful servant. If he had been persuaded of the Lord's hardness, why did he not at least invest the money where he could receive interest? His excuse was totally inconsistent. Who indeed will have any valid excuse for treating the Lord's goods with indifference?

The talent is taken from him and given to the servant who had ten talents. Observe that the servant had gained these ten talents for his Lord, yet the Lord had allowed him to keep them; for it is said, he "both ten talents." How contrary was this to the wicked servant's claim that his Lord was "a hard man!"

The principle is then emphatically laid down that to one who has shall more be given, and one who has not shall be deprived of what he first received. This is the clear distinction between one who has faith and one does not. The latter has no intention of pleasing the Lord, and can expect the consequences Of this. This man's being cast into outer darkness is the awesome end In eternal punishment. Weeping indicates remorse, but gnashing of teeth shows there is no repentance, but the bitterness of stubborn rebellion, yet restrained so that it cannot be expressed in action.

Verse 31 now introduces the subject of the Lord's coming in reference to Gentiles. Therefore it is said, "When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him." It is certainly not the Lord's coming for His saints, as in verse 10, but His coming at the end of the tribulation period, when He will assert His title of authority over all the earth. Whether His sitting on the throne of His glory indicates a literal sessional judgment may be a question Daniel 7:9-14 and Joel 3:12 seem to indicate that His sitting in judgment will embrace the various conflicts in which the nations are involved, over which He will, in sovereign authority, accomplish His own discerning judgment in every case. Of course Gentile nations will be gathered in hordes to the land of Israel at that time, some against the nation Israel, others intending to defend them.

At least, whatever the case, He will separate between the sheep and the goats, the sheep being at the right hand of His approval, the goats at the left hand of His refusal. He knows how to express His approval to the sheep and to welcome them to the earthly kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. This is a contrast to the portion of the church, God's heavenly people, who have been chosen in Christ "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4).

He speaks to them of their showing Him many kindness in times of special need. For He forgets nothing that is done for His sake, though they have no recollection of what He speaks of. Faith does those things that are right and considerate without expecting any recognition for it, so that, as the hymn reads, "Little things we had forgotten He will tell us were for Him."

The King answers their question by telling them. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me." There seems to be no doubt that He is referring to the godly remnant of Israel as His brethren, those who have, during the tribulation, borne some witness for Him, however feeble, and have been shown kindly consideration by these Gentiles, though suffering greatly even from their own natural brethren, the proud leaders in Israel. But the Lord so delights in them as to consider that, as they are treated, so is He treated. This is no less true today (See Acts 9:4).

How tremendous is the contrast between verses 34 and 41! Instead of "Come," His word is "depart:" instead of "ye blessed of my Father," it is "ye cursed:" instead of "the kingdom prepared for you," it is "everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." That fire was not prepared for them, but they chose this by the very fact of their negative attitude toward the Lord Jesus.

He does not refer to their works of positive evil, but to their ignoring Him as expressed in their ignoring the needs of His brethren. This is their serious sin of emission. Nothing is said of the positive guilt of the rich man in Luke 16:1-31, though he lived in ease and luxury. But he ignored the poor man Lazarus, who was laid at his gate only desiring crumbs from his table. But the rich man died, and lifted up his eyes in torment (v.22-23).

The solemn issue as regards these "goats" of the nations is that of eternal punishment. At the time of this judgment death takes place, of course, and already they will be in torment, though the judgment of the great white throne will be a thousand years later, and only then will they be actually cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). The righteous go into life eternal. They will be blessed in the millennial earth, but this is only the beginning of their portion of eternal blessing. Notice that, though nations are gathered here, the judgment is not national, but individual. The Lord Jesus has now "finished all these sayings."

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Matthew 25:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/matthew-25.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
the Third Week after Epiphany
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