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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Matthew 25

 

 

Verses 1-13

Matthew 24:42 to Matthew 25:13. Abbreviating Mark 13:33-37, with its simile of the absent householder, into one verse (Matthew 24:42; cf. Luke 21:36), Mt. inserts (a) the short simile of a householder off his guard, (b) the longer one describing the absent master and the careful and careless stewards (for these cf. Luke 12:39-48), (c) the parable of the bridesmaids (Mt. only). At Matthew 25:13 he repeats Mark 13:33, the starting-point of his inserted material. Note that in (a) the Parousia is boldly likened to the coming of a thief (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:2), in (b) the lesson is taught that every disciple must play his part loyally in the brotherhood. In its present form the parable may point to the contrast between faithful and heedless leaders of the early Church. "One looks after his flock, the other neglects and maltreats them, and seeks his own advantage" (Montefiore, p. 743).—cut him asunder (Matthew 5:1) possibly means" discharge him from his service." See Moulton and Milligan, Vocabulary, p. 165, and cf. EGT. In (c) the Parousia is compared to a wedding procession. The contrast between the ready and the unready is again brought out, and the moral is the same as in the preceding illustrations. "Be prepared for Messiah's advent; it is too late to repent after His arrival." This parable is a good instance of the futility of trying to squeeze a meaning out of every detail. Montefiore thinks the parable (which is not one of the best) is later than Jesus, and "grew up to explain the delay in the coming of the Kingdom, and to point out how the intervening time—of uncertain duration—should be spent."

Matthew 25:1. After "bridegroom" add "and the bride."


Verses 14-30

Matthew 25:14-30. The Parable of the Talents (cf. Luke 19:11-27).—There is also a resemblance to Mark 13:33-37, especially Matthew 25:34. Loisy thinks this parable had originally no reference to the Parousia and the Judgment, but was simply meant to show that reward in the Kingdom of Heaven is proportionate to merit. As it stands, however, it is akin to the preceding parable of the bridesmaids. Though the Parousia be long delayed (Matthew 25:19) it will surely come, and those who wish to share its blessings must use the time of waiting wisely; they must employ the endowments God has given them in His service, which is that of their fellow-men. All parties will be the better for this—God, the individual, and the community. Gifts that are not employed are lost; capacity is extirpated by disuse. The real reward (despite Matthew 25:28, which really serves to bring in Matthew 25:29) is a place in the Kingdom to share in the Messianic joy (Matthew 25:21), and as the two-talent man gets the same guerdon as the five-talent man, it is not a question of much or little, but of loyal purpose and honest endeavour.

"In God's clear sight high work we do,

If we but do our best."

The excuse of the one-talent man is part of the paraphernalia of the parable, not to be pressed as a conception of God. Even if the man held this mistaken notion, he should have acted more zealously and so won his master's praise. Possibly the parable originally ended with Matthew 25:29; the extra punishment of Matthew 25:30 seems needless. It may reflect the feeling of the early Church that something more than mere deprivation awaited the unprofitable servant.


Verses 31-46

Matthew 25:31-46. The Day of Judgment (Mt. only).—Though the nations are gathered before the Son of Man as judge, they pass into the background in the trial which is really that of the Christian Church, unless indeed the assumption is that all the nations have become Christian ere the Judgment. For the sheep and the goats cf. Ezekiel 34:17 ff. Note the sudden transition to the title "King" (Matthew 25:34). Have we here another adaptation to the Parousia of a parable in which originally the King was the central figure, or simply the development of a passage like Enoch 62f.? For the test cf. Matthew 10:40 ff., Matthew 18:5; it even goes beyond these sayings, for in my name" is not here required. The act of love is all-sufficient, yet it is "in Christ's name," "for Christ's sake," that Christians have ever since so acted. For an OT parallel cf. Isaiah 58:7. The best rabbinical thought placed "performance of kindnesses" above mere almsgiving. The visiting of prisoners may point to a time when persecution had set in. From the principle of the worth of every human being as a brother of Jesus, a child of God, laid down in Matthew 25:40, have sprung all the "Gesta Christi," the achievements of Christianity in the sphere of philanthropy, education, the uplifting of the despised and downtrodden, the ingathering of the outcast. See further, p. 670.

Matthew 25:32. The idea is that of a universal resurrection for judgment (cf. Daniel 12:2).

Matthew 25:34. prepared for you implies foreknowledge and election (cf. Matthew 20:23), yet the following verses assume human responsibility.

Matthew 25:40. This picture of the Messiah as full of human love and sympathy is unknown to the warrior-king of Jewish Apocalyptic.

Matthew 25:41. The punishment of fire (cf. Matthew 3:10) is not prepared "for you," but for the wicked angels.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Matthew 25:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/matthew-25.html. 1919.

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