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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Matthew 25:1

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Bridegroom;   Fool;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Judgment;   Kingdom of Heaven;   Marriage;   Opportunity;   Resurrection;   Unfaithfulness;   Virgin;   Wisdom;   Women;   Scofield Reference Index - Christ;   Kingdom of Heaven;   Parables;   Virgins;   Thompson Chain Reference - Bible Stories for Children;   Bridegroom;   Children;   Christ;   Heaven;   Home;   Kingdom;   Parables;   Pleasant Sunday Afternoons;   Religion;   Similitudes;   Spiritual;   Stories for Children;   Truth;   Virgins;   The Topic Concordance - Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ;   Kingdom of God;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Lamps;   Marriage;   Parables;   Woman;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Marriage;   Parable;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Lamp;   Marriage;   Sleep;   Virgin;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Fool, Foolishness, Folly;   Watchfulness;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Annihilation;   Holiness of God;   Joy;   Judgment, Last;   Meditation;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bride;   Heaven;   Lamp;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Canticles;   ;   Lamp;   Law;   Marriage;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Kingdom of God;   Second Coming, the;   Sheep;   Torch;   Vessels and Utensils;   Virgin, Virgin Birth;   Woman;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Marriage;   Matthew, Gospel According to;   Messiah;   Olives, Mount of;   Sin;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Candle;   Children;   Claims (of Christ);   Doctrines;   Eternal Punishment;   Foolishness;   Heaven ;   Imagination;   Judgment;   Lamp Lampstand;   Lazarus;   Marriage;   Matthew, Gospel According to;   Numbers (2);   Paradox;   Parousia (2);   Prophet;   Providence;   Readiness;   Selfishness;   Sleep;   Spiritualizing of the Parables;   Tares ;   Torch;   Unity (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Bridegroom;   Lamp;   Matthew, Gospel by;   29 Light Lamp Candle;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Lamp;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Bridegroom;   Christ;   Lamp;   Ten;   Virgin;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Lamp;   Ramah;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Folly and Fool;   ḥuppah;   Marriage;   New Testament;   Parable;   Song of Songs, the;  
Devotionals:
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for October 16;  
Unselected Authors

Clarke's Commentary

CHAPTER XXV.

The parable of the ten virgins, five of whom were wise, and

five foolish, 1-12.

The necessity of being constantly prepared to appear before

God, 13.

The parable of the talents, 14-30.

The manner in which God shall deal with the righteous and the

wicked in the judgment of the great day, 31-46.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXV.

Verse Matthew 25:1. Then shall the kingdom of heaven — The state of Jews and professing Christians - the state of the visible Church at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, and in the day of judgment: for the parable appears to relate to both those periods. And particularly at the time in which Christ shall come to judge the world, it shall appear what kind of reception his Gospel has met with. This parable, or something very like it, is found in the Jewish records: so in a treatise entitled RESHITH CHOCMAH, the beginning of wisdom, we read thus: "Our wise men of blessed memory say, Repent whilst thou hast strength to do it, whilst thy lamp burns, and thy oil is not extinguished; for if thy lamp be gone out, thy oil will profit thee nothing." Our doctors add, in MEDRASH: "The holy blessed God said to Israel, My sons, repent whilst the gates of repentance stand open; for I receive a gift at present, but when I shall sit in judgment, in the age to come, I will receive none." Another parable, mentioned by Kimchi, on Isaiah 65:13. "Rabbi Yuchanan, the son of Zachai, spoke a parable concerning a king, who invited his servants, but set them no time to come: the prudent and wary among them adorned themselves and, standing at the door of the king's house, said, Is any thing wanting in the house of the king? (i.e. Is there any work to be done?) But the foolish ones that were among them went away, and working said, When shall the feast be in which there is no labour? Suddenly the king sought out his servants: those who were adorned entered in, and they who were still polluted entered in also. The king was glad when he met the prudent, but he was angry when he met the foolish: he said, Let the prudent sit down and eat-let the others stand and look on." Rabbi Eliezer said, "Turn to God one day before your death." His disciples said, "How can a man know the day of his death?" He answered them, "Therefore you should turn to God to-day, perhaps you may die to-morrow; thus every day will be employed in returning." See Kimchi in Isaiah 65:13.

Virgins — Denoting the purity of the Christian doctrine and character. In this parable, the bridegroom is generally understood to mean Jesus Christ. The feast, that state of felicity to which he has promised to raise his genuine followers. The wise, or prudent, and foolish virgins, those who truly enjoy, and those who only profess the purity and holiness of his religion. The oil, the grace and salvation of God, or that faith which works by love. The vessel, the heart in which this oil is contained. The lamp, the profession of enjoying the burning and shining light of the Gospel of Christ. Going forth; the whole of their sojourning upon earth.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/matthew-25.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

133. The ten girls (Matthew 25:1-40.25.13)

Matthew 25:0 records three stories or pictures from Jesus, all of which illustrate the teaching he had just given. He would leave the world for an unknown length of time, then return. Those who prepared themselves for his return would enter his kingdom with joy; those who did not would suffer loss. The three passages show three reasons for people’s failure - thoughtlessness, laziness and indifference.

A Jewish marriage followed a period of engagement that was almost as binding as marriage. At the marriage the bridegroom, with his friends, went and brought the bride from her father’s house to his own house, where the feast was held. This was the procession that the ten girls in the story went out to meet (Matthew 25:1).

Some of the girls, however, were foolish, for they did not consider the possibility that the bridegroom might not come at the time they expected. When his arrival was delayed, they were unprepared (Matthew 25:2-40.25.9). In due course the bridegroom came, but there was then no time to make preparations. The foolish girls were locked outside the house and had no further chance of going in to the wedding feast (Matthew 25:10-40.25.12).

In the same way, because of carelessness, many will not be prepared when the Son of man comes. Consequently, they will miss out on the blessings they had hoped for in his kingdom (Matthew 25:13).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/matthew-25.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

MATT. 25

THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS; THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS; SCENES FROM THE FINAL JUDGMENT; THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were foolish, and five were wise ... Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13)

This is plainly a parable of the second coming and of the judgment, thus emphasizing the presence of that theme in Matthew 24.

ANALOGIES IN THE PARABLE

<LINES><MONO>

The kingdom of heaven = the church

The bridegroom = Christ

The midnight arrival = the second advent

The virgins = church members

The wise virgins = the prepared

The foolish virgins = the unprepared

The lamps = (a) faith or (b) works

The oil = (a) works or (b) the Spirit

The sleep of the virgins = the sleep of death

Tarrying of the bridegroom = delay of the second coming

The midnight cry = the call to judgment

Refusal to give oil = merit not transferrable

Exclusion of the foolish = rejection of unprepared

The shut door = impossibility of the last minuteMONO>LINES>

This parable pertains to members of the body of Christ; and, although an oriental wedding is made the vehicle for the conveyance of a vital truth relative to church members and their kingdom duties, it will be observed that the bride in this instance is not mentioned, and does not represent the church in this parable. It is the bridesmaids who appear in this analogy as Christians, and their going forth to meet the bridegroom represents the going forth of Christians to meet the Lord eternally.

The number ten (10) and their equal division as to wise and foolish appear to be inert factors in the parable. The same is true for part of the conversation between the wise and foolish. Thus, the suggestion of the wise that the foolish go and buy for themselves does not imply any opportunity for preparation after the summons for judgment.

The parable is practical, the tragic story of the ready and the unready. It applies to all present-day Christians. The kingdom of heaven is the church, aptly set forth in the analogy as a company of precious bridesmaids. The great shock, therefore, is to realize that some, even of these, shall be summarily excluded from association with the bridegroom. The parable is designed to shock men into realization that a host of good, clean, moral, respectable members of the church will be lost. Through sheer negligence, many of the redeemed shall fail to enter in. The foolish virgins are the Lord's own example of saved persons who at last failed to make the port of everlasting life. This warns against idleness and neglect, but it should not discourage. Those foolish virgins did not provide oil, but they could have done so. What was required of them was nothing extraordinary or especially difficult, but it did require concern and attention which they failed to give.

And five were foolish ... A favorite term in Scripture for the unsaved is precisely this, "foolish." It is the "fool" who says in his heart there is no God (Psalms 14:1). The man who built on sand is described not as vicious but as "foolish" (Matthew 7:26). The rich man who mistook his body for his soul was denominated by the Lord, "thou fool!" (Luke 12:20). Those unfortunate bridesmaids of this parable were in no sense reprobate or immoral, but "foolish." One sees their counterpart on every hand in those persons with exquisite tastes, cultural excellence, and social acceptability; but they have no oil in their lamps. They are spiritually bankrupt.

They all slumbered and slept ... The sleep in this parable must be identified with the sleep of death, because: (1) it ended only when the midnight cry heralded the second advent, symbolized by the coming of the bridegroom, and (2) because both the unready and the ready entered it. Death must come alike to all, the ready and the unready, except, of course, for those relatively few who shall remain alive at the coming of the Lord.

While the bridegroom tarried ... This referred to the long delay prior to the second coming of Christ. It has been vigorously alleged that the early Christians thought the coming of the Lord would surely take place within their life span, and certainly some of them did believe that; but the teachings of Christ afford abundant proof that Jesus taught otherwise. Again and again, Jesus left witness that a very long period would elapse before his return (Matthew 24:48; Matthew 25:19). Observations of Richard C. Trench in this context are helpful. He said:

We may number this among the many hints given by our Lord that the time of his return might possibly be delayed very far beyond the expectation of some of his disciples. It was a hint and no more. Had more been given, had he plainly said that he would not come for many centuries, then the first ages of the church would have been placed at a manifest disadvantage, being deprived of that powerful motive to holiness and diligence supplied to each generation of the faithful by the possibility of his return in their time. It is not that he desires each succeeding generation to believe that in their day he will certainly return; for he cannot desire our faith and our practice to be founded on a misapprehension ... But it is a necessary element of the doctrine of the second coming of Christ, that it should be possible at any time, that no generation should consider it improbable in theirs.[1]

The wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps ... In the list of analogies above, two interpretations for the oil and the lamps were noted. Again, from Trench:

Here again we meet with a controversy between the Romanists and the early Reformers ... The Reformers asserted that what these virgins lacked was the living principle of faith ... The Romanist reversed the whole; for him, what they had was faith, but faith which, not having works, was "dead, being alone" (James 2:17).[2]

Rather than choosing sides in an old controversy, we take the view that there is no relative evaluation of lamps vs. oil, or oil vs. lamps, intended in this parable. BOTH OIL AND LAMPS were vital and necessary. There is not the slightest suggestion that if the foolish virgins had brought plenty of oil and NO LAMPS, they would have been admitted. Therefore, to take a position with reference to the superiority of either oil or lamps would be only to obscure the fact that both were required. For this reason, it makes no difference whether the lamps are viewed as faith without works, or works without the Spirit of God, or whether the oil is made to be the Holy Spirit without which a person is "none of his" (Romans 8:9), or that living faith without which it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The overwhelming message of the parable turns on preparation or the lack of it. The oil happened to be the necessity which the foolish virgins failed to supply; but their failure would have been no less fatal to their purpose if they had failed to supply lamps.

We have already noted that the conversation between the wise and foolish at the moment of the bridegroom's appearance forms a somewhat inert portion of the parable, inserted not to teach the possibility of last-minute preparation, but to emphasize the utter impossibility of it. Ralph Waldo Emerson's criticism of the wise virgins for not sharing their oil with the foolish sprang from a profound blindness to spiritual reality. Alfred Plummer noted that:

It is impossible for one person to impart to another the spiritual power which comes from frequent communion with God's spirit. That can come only from man's own experience of such communion, an experience which requires much time. "Give us of your oil" is a request which no religious person can grant. The refusal of the wise virgins to give of their oil indicates, not want of will, but want of power.[3]

The Romish doctrine of the works of supererogation to the effect that the good deeds done by saints in excess of the requirements of divine law provide a bank of merit or stored-up credit, available, upon terms prescribed by the church, to help supply the lack of sinful souls - this doctrine is dealt a fatal blow by this parable of Jesus. One can be sure that there are no banks of stored-up merit to which the unprepared may have recourse at the last moment. Heaven will be a prepared place for a prepared people; and failure to prepare will mean failure to enter.

And the door was shut ... This is a warning to the good, the morally upright, the respectable, and the cultured church member, a warning thundered from the gates of heaven, "There must be oil in your lamp." Do not be deceived by the cliche of Satan to the effect that "works cannot save." Preparation can save, and works are invariably involved in preparation. One shudders to think of some who may be trusting to be saved by "faith alone," as outlined in many of the current creeds, or expecting the stored-up merit of some ancient "saint" to save them. Equally futile are the hopes of those who may rely upon the goodness of their parents, the merits of their families, or the works of their religious group to save them. Is there enough oil in your lamp? Arouse, ye sleepers, and provide oil for your lamps before life's little day is spent. Oil you must have, not merely enough to light, but enough to burn and last. An apostle said, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). The unwise virgins simply did not do it, and millions today are in the same condition. They are members of the company called to meet the Bridegroom; they even have lamps, and a little oil, but not enough. Not enough! What awful words are those! This parable is a trumpet call and war cry for men to bestir themselves. "Go and buy for yourselves!" This is the only proper advice; but do it now. The foolish virgins waited, waited until the sun declined, and twilight came, and darkness fell, until their eyes were closed in the sleep of death; and in that wretched state of unpreparedness, the midnight cry overtook them. Then it was too late; may it not be so for us!

Watch, therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour ... This was Jesus' own conclusion from the parable; it should also be ours. The meaning of "watch" is not restricted to staying awake but includes thoroughness of preparation, an alertness that takes account of unseen contingencies, and a conscious readiness AT ALL TIMES to respond to the divine summons. The wise virgins slept with the foolish ones, as indeed all shall sleep in death; thus, "to watch" enjoins the proper employment of all those golden hours that precede the inevitable onset of that night in which no man can work.

THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS

The following analogies will readily be seen in this parable:

<LINES><MONO>

The man going into another country = Christ the Lord

The other country = heaven where Christ is

The servants = Christ's disciples

Distribution of talents = endowment of gifts

The return of the man = the second advent

The accounting required = the judgment

Profit reported = improvement of gifts

The buried talent = sloth and an evil heart

The joy of the Lord = felicity in heaven

The outer darkness = punishment of wicked

Faithful servants = faithful Christians

The unfaithful servant = unfaithful ChristiansMONO>LINES>

[1] Richard C. Trench, Notes on the Parables (Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1953), p. 256.

[2] Ibid., p. 252.

[3] Alfred Plummer, Commentary on Matthew (London: Elliot Stock, 1909), p. 344.

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/matthew-25.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Then shall the kingdom of heaven - See the notes at Matthew 3:2. The phrase here refers to his coming in the day of judgment.

Shall be likened - Or shall resemble. The meaning is, “When the Son of man returns to judgment, it will be as it was in the case of ten virgins in a marriage ceremony.” The coming of Christ to receive his people to himself is often represented under the similitude of a marriage, the church being represented as his spouse or bride. The marriage relation is the most tender, firm, and endearing of any known on earth, and on this account it suitably represents the union of believers to Christ. See Matthew 9:15; John 3:29; Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:9; Ephesians 5:25-49.5.32.

Ten virgins - These virgins, doubtless, represent the church - a name given to it because it is pure and holy. See 2 Corinthians 11:2; Lamentations 1:15; Lamentations 2:13.

Which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom - The “lamps” used on such occasions were rather “torches” or “flambeaux.” They were made by winding rags around pieces of iron or earthenware, sometimes hollowed so as to contain oil, and fastened to handles of wood. These torches were dipped in oil, and gave a large light. Marriage “ceremonies” in the East were conducted with great pomp and solemnity. The ceremony of marriage was performed commonly in the open air, on the banks of a stream. Both the bridegroom and bride were attended by friends. They were escorted in a palanquin. carried by four or more persons. After the ceremony of marriage succeeded a feast of seven days if the bride was a virgin, or three days if she was a widow. This feast was celebrated in her father’s house. At the end of that time the bridegroom conducted the bride with great pomp and splendor to his own home.

This was done in the evening, or at night, Jeremiah 7:34; Jeremiah 25:10; Jeremiah 33:11. Many friends and relations attended them; and besides those who went with them from the house of the bride, there was another company that came out from the house of the bridegroom to meet them and welcome them. These were probably female friends and relatives of the bridegroom, who went out to welcome him and his new companion to their home. These are the virgins mentioned in this parable. Not knowing precisely the time when the procession would come, they probably went out early, and waited until they should see indications of its approach. In the celebration of marriage in the East at the present day, many of the special customs of ancient times are observed. “At a Hindu marriage,” says a modern missionary, “the procession of which I saw some years ago, the bridegroom came from a distance, and the bride lived at Serampore, to which place the bridegroom was to come by water. After waiting two or three hours, at length, near midnight, it was announced, in the very words of Scripture, ‘Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.’ All the persons employed now lighted their lamps, and ran with them in their hands to fill up their stations in the procession. Some of them had lost their lights and were unprepared, but it was then too late to seek them, and the cavalcade moved forward to the house of the bride, at which place the company entered a large and splendidly illuminated area before the house, covered with an awning, where a great multitude of friends, dressed in their best apparel, were seated upon mats. The bridegroom was carried in the arms of a friend, and placed in a superb seat in the midst of the company, where he sat a short time, and then went into the house, the door of which was immediately shut and guarded by sepoys. I and others expostulated with the doorkeepers, but in vain. Never was I so struck with our Lord’s beautiful parable as at this moment - ‘And the door was shut.’”

The journal of one of the American missionaries in Greece contains an account of an Armenian wedding which she attended; and, after describing the dresses and previous ceremonies, she says that at 12 o’clock at night precisely the cry was made by some of the attendants, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh;” and immediately five or six men set off to meet him.

Bridegroom - A newly-married man.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/matthew-25.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 25:1

. Then shall the kingdom of heaven. By this term is meant the condition of the future Church, which was to be collected by the authority and direction of Christ. He employs this remarkable title, that believers may not deceive themselves by an erroneous opinion that they have arrived at absolute perfection. The parable is borrowed from the ordinary custom of life; for it was a childish speculation of Jerome and others, to adduce this passage in praise of virginity; while Christ had no other object in view than to lessen the uneasiness which they might be apt to feel in consequence of the delay of his coming. He says, therefore, that he asks nothing more from us than is usually done for friends at a marriage-feast. The custom was, that virgins, who are tender and delicate—should, by way of respect, accompany the bridegroom to his chamber. But the general instruction of the parable consists in this, that it is not enough to have been once ready and prepared for the discharge of duty, if we do not persevere to the end.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/matthew-25.html. 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Shall we turn now to Matthew's gospel chapter twenty-five? In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew's gospel the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him what would be the signs that would precede the destruction of the temple, and then the signs of thy coming, and the end of the age. He had just left the scribes and the Pharisees, and told them that they would not see Him again, until they said, "blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord".

And so Jesus was referring to another coming. And so the disciples were questioning what will be the signs of thy coming in the end of the age. And so He proceeded to tell them the various signs that would indicate His return, and then having given to them many of the signs and the events that would take place prior to His return, His coming in clouds of glory to establish God's kingdom here upon the earth. He then said to His disciples that the important thing for them was they should be watching, and they should be ready, because they will not know the day, or the hour that the Son of man is coming.

Paul wrote to us in first Thessalonians chapter five, he said, "of the times and the seasons you have no need that I write unto you, for you yourselves know perfectly well that the coming of the Lord is as a thief in the night, but you are not the children of darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief".

Now the Lord does expect us to be aware of the times and the seasons, however, we do not know the day, or the hour. Therefore, the word of Christ to us is to be watching, and to be ready. And He gave to them a series of parables, and the emphasis of the parable was to be watching, or to be ready for the Lord, because you don't know when He is coming again. So the important thing is that you are watching, and that you are ready.

So we are continuing then, as we get into chapter twenty-five, these series of parables, which have as the chief thrust, the importance of us to be watching, and the importance for us to be ready when He returns. Because unfortunately there will be some who are not ready, and the coming of the Lord will catch them by surprise and they will not enter into the glorious marriage feast of the lamb.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven ( Matthew 25:1 ),

Then; when? When Jesus of course comes again!

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and they went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. And they that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. And while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all of those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise: Give us some of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so, lest there not be enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 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. Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh ( Matthew 25:1-40.25.13 ).

Now with this particular parable there is both, the injunctions to be ready, for they that were ready went in, and then He concludes by saying, "watch therefore, because you don't know when He is coming".

Now again with the interpretation of the parable of the ten virgins, there are probably ten interpretations. Rather than try and go through the various ways that this parable has been interpreted, I will just share with you my understanding of the parable, and if you don't like my understanding, you can go ahead and pick something that fits your schema.

But I believe that the parable of the ten virgins, the ten virgins are representative of the whole church. That the five wise are representative of the true body of Christ. Now there is a vast church system in the world today, as Jesus said in His parables of the kingdom, how that the mustard seed grew into a tree, and every bird came and lodged in its branches. There are all kinds of birds lodging in the overall tree of the church, some of them not so good.

As we look at the church today in the world, I think that it is safe to say, for the most part the church is pretty apostate. There are surely many apostate ministers. As Paul the apostle said, "there will come up from among your own group, those who will depart from the faith, seeking to draw men after themselves, and many of them departing from our very Lord." And when you hear the unbelief and skepticism that is expressed by so many ministers today; unbelief in the Bible as God's inspired word, unbelief in the virgin birth in Jesus Christ, unbelief in the atoning death of Christ, and yet they call themselves ministers. And yet they are part of major denominations. And yet they are embracing all kinds of ungodly doctrines. And many of them are extremely opposed to any fundamental view of the scriptures and especially to any evangelical approach to man.

So the church encompasses a broad spectrum of people; some converted, and some unconverted. Surely this is declared in the messages of Jesus to the seven churches there in the second and third chapter in the book of Revelation. To many of the churches the word of the Lord was, "repent, or else I am going to come quickly." And the inference is that if you don't repent, you are going to be going into the Great Tribulation. In fact, He said that plainly to the church of Thyatira: "I gave her space to repent of her fornication, but she repented not, therefore I will cast her into the great tribulation, and those who commit fornication with her, unless they repent"( Revelation 2:21 ).

The church unfortunately is not a true representation of Jesus Christ. And I blush with shame at the history of the church. I blush with shame at the World Council of Churches today, the actions, the deeds of these men in the name of Christianity. But within this whole system of the church, God does have His faithful remnant, the true body of Christ. Jesus said to the church of Philadelphia, "thou has kept the word of my patience"( Revelation 3:10 ). There are those who are keeping true to the word of God. And within the church itself there is the true body of Christ.

Now the oil is representative in the scriptures of the Holy Spirit. There are those who are trying to do the work of the ministry, and the work of the gospel in the energies, and the abilities of their flesh, and their flesh only.

The church has developed magnificent programs. Some of the greatest genius of man has been dedicated to devising and scheming finance programs, and enlargement programs, and all of these kinds of things whereby the church might be built into a great organization and structure, that might influence the world through politics. But then there are those who are walking in the Spirit, who are filled with the Spirit, who are trusting in the Spirit to guide the church, to build the church. Paul tells us in Romans, "but as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God"( Romans 8:14 ).

And so it is significant that there were those foolish virgins who had their lamps, but no oil. And as the result when the cry finally came, behold the bridegroom cometh, notice they were all lumped in one party until that final cry, and then the real nature was exposed. And those foolish virgins lacking the oil, as they began to trim the wicks, they said, "oh, our lamps are going out." And they realized at that time that they didn't have the true light, but it was also at that time too late. And while they were gone to buy the oil, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went into the marriage feast of the Lamb. They that were foolish, when they came back, they said, "open to us," but the Lord said, "I don't know you; too late."

Therefore, be ready. Not only that, walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, depend upon the Spirit of God, be filled with the Spirit; all of these are injunctions given to us throughout the New Testament. And watch, therefore, because you don't know when the Lord is coming.

Now again, the kingdom of heaven is as a man who is traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And to one he gave five talents ( Matthew 25:14-40.25.15 ),

And a talent is actually a weight, and so the value depends on whether or not it is copper, or silver, or gold.

and to another he gave two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and he took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went out and traded the same, and made them other five talents [or increased them]. And likewise he that had received the two, he also gained another two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. And after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reckoned with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought the other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered unto me five talents: and behold, I've gained besides them five more talents. And 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. He also that had received the two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered unto me two talents: and behold, I've gained two other talents besides them. And 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. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I know you, you are a hard man, you reap where you have not sown, you gather where you have not strowed: and I was afraid, and I went and hide the talent in the earth: and lo, there thou hast all that is thine [I give you back the talent you gave me]. And his lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reaped where I did not sow, and I gathered where I had not strowed: you ought therefore have put the money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury [or interest]. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. For unto everyone that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. And cast ye thee unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth ( Matthew 25:15-40.25.30 ).

Here obviously the Lord is telling us that He is wanting us to be productive with His things. Whatever God has entrusted into our care or keeping, God expects us to use it and to be productive with it. Not to bury, or to hide, not to try to just to preserve, but the Lord wants us to increase that which He has entrusted into our keeping. Now it is interesting to me that the amount that he gave to each one was according to that person's abilities. But the person who had the two was rewarded just as that one who had the five, in that in their doubling of what was given to them, they were each commanded of the Lord as good and faithful servants, and were given their place into the kingdom.

This parable would seem to indicate that our position in the kingdom of God, when Jesus comes to establish that kingdom upon the earth, will be relative to the faithfulness now to the things of God that God has entrusted into our care. If God has placed things in my keeping then I am responsible to be using those things to increase the kingdom of God. And if I am faithful now in those things that God has entrusted to me, then according to that faithfulness will be my position in the coming kingdom. In one of the gospels it says He said to him, "be thou ruler over ten cities, enter into the joy of thy lord"( Luke 10:17 ).

The Bible teaches that we are going to live and reign with Jesus Christ. Jesus in His message to the churches, to those who overcame, He said, that they would rule over the earth with a rod of iron. Looking forward to that day when Christ shall establish His kingdom, and our position in the kingdom determined on how I handle now those things God has entrusted to me.

Now God has entrusted to each one of His servants something. And to each one that was entrusted by God with whatever it was, it was his responsibility to use it, to bring an increase unto the Lord. It should cause each of us to seriously examine our own lives, and seek first of all to understand what is it that God has entrusted to me of His kingdom, of His kingdom's goods. And then what am I doing with what God has entrusted to me? Am I a faithful servant, or am I slothful in spiritual things, in the things of the kingdom? Do I have a very slothful attitude, just seeking to hang onto the status quo, rather than really seeking to use those things of God to their best advantage?

Now Jesus declares in verse thirty-one;

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. And then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry and fed thee, or thirsty and gave you a drink? When did we see you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? or when did we see you sick, or imprisoned, and came unto you? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry, and you did not give me meat: I was thirsty, you did not give me a drink: I was a stranger, you did not take me in: I was naked, and you did not clothe me: sick, and imprisoned, and you did not visit me. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or imprisoned, and did not minister unto you? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal ( Matthew 25:31-40.25.46 ).

When Jesus returns to the earth in glory to establish His kingdom upon the earth, the first order of business at His return will be the judgement of the nations, in which it will be determined which of those people who have survived the Great Tribulation will be allowed to enter into the kingdom age. And so all of the people of the nations will be gathered before Christ for this period of judgement. So it is possible that a person could survive the Great Tribulation and see the Lord when He comes again, and still not be able to enter into the kingdom age. There will be a definite division at that point, as He separates the people, the nations, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

In Daniel chapter twelve, as Daniel is asking the Lord "How long till the end?" And the Lord informs Daniel, "from the time the daily oblations and sacrifices are caused to be ceased, unto the end shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days". And He said, "blessed is he who comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-fifth day."

I believe that that signifies that this particular period of which Jesus is referring here in Matthew twenty-five will probably last for forty days, which is the number of judgement in the scriptures, forty is the number of judgement. "And it rained for forty days and forty nights", and this is a numeric kind of symbolism, the number of judgement. And it would appear that Jesus will be judging for forty-five days, actually, from the one thousand two hundred and ninety to one thousand and three hundred and thirty-fifth.

This period of judgement, though, in which Jesus will be judging the nations, as the Lord said to Daniel, "blessed is he who comes to the one thousand and three hundred and thirty-fifth day"; that is, if you make it to then you're in the kingdom. He will have cast off from the kingdom at that point, those that He deems unworthy to enter in.

Now notice to those referred to as His sheep He said "come ye, blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. It is interesting how that so often the scripture refers to God's plan for our lives, having existed from the foundations of the world. "Chosen in Him," Paul said, "from the foundations of the word." God's plan, God's eternal plan for His children to share in the glory of His kingdom. Jesus prayed, "Father I would that they who have been with me might share with me in the glory. That they might see me with the glory that I have with you before the world ever was"( John 17:5 ). The glory of God's kingdom. Those who will be able to share it.

Now when did we see you hungry, when did we see you thirsty, when did we see you in these conditions? And Jesus responds, "Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you did it to me."

There is a very beautiful story of a Martin of Turin. He was a soldier and he was a Christian. And as he was entering into a city on a cold day, there was a beggar in rags asking him for help. But Martin didn't have any money, and so he took his coat, his Army coat, and he cut it in half, and he gave half of it to this beggar. It was sort of a tattered coat and all, but he was willing to share it with this man in need. That night, it is said that Martin had a dream. And in his dream he saw the Lord standing with all of His holy angels in heaven, and the Lord was wearing half of an army coat. "Inasmuch as you've done it unto the least of these my brethren, you've done it unto me."

You know whatever we do we should do as unto the Lord. And whatever we do as unto the Lord, the Lord will reward us for it. So important that we be interested in people around us, in the needs of people around us. How can I say that the love of God dwells in my heart, if I close up my heart to the needs of people?

James in his practical exposition, bringing Christianity into the practical aspects said that if you just say to a brother, "Oh be fed, be warm"( James 2:16 ) and all, and yet you don't actually give him something, what good have you really done him? And he exhorts us actually to the practical aspects of reaching out, having compassion for those that are in need and reaching out to help those that are in need. Surely in these days of economic crisis, we as true children of God should be very concerned with those less fortunate ones in our midst, around us, who are in need of help at this time. How can we apply luxuries upon ourselves, when someone next to us is going hungry?

Jesus said "Inasmuch as you did it unto the least of these, you did it to me." And those who we are ignoring the needs of those around them, the goats, "inasmuch as you didn't do it unto them, you didn't do it to me," Jesus said. Now there was one thing that I thought was interesting there, "depart from me", verse forty-one, "ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." God did not prepare Gehenna for men; it was prepared by God for Satan. Therefore God does not cast men into hell. He didn't prepare it for men; He prepared it for Satan. However, if a person wants to align himself with Satan and go there, God will do His best to stop him. God has done his best to stop him. He has sent His only begotten Son to save men from that fate. But if a person wants to reject God's provisions, if a person is bent upon rebelling against God, and joining with Satan's rebellion against God's kingdom, then a man can by his own volition and his own choices spend eternity apart from God.

The last verse, "and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to life eternal." Now the question of whether or not a person is in torment and suffers forever is an issue that I hope doesn't exist, but I dare not seek to change what God has said or to modify what God has said. And here Jesus said "depart from me, ye cursed into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels and these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous to life eternal".

Now just what that does mean, I am not prepared to say. But I dare not try to modify it or change it. But really why should you be so concerned about it, if you're not going there. You know rather than being all upset over that aspect, just look for the Lord, and escape the place, and then you don't have to worry about it. Whether or not it's temporarily, whether or not you are consumed there, whether or not you're going to go on for a period of time, or whatever. As I say I would hope that, but I don't know. "



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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/matthew-25.html. 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The introductory "then" ties this parable to the subject of the preceding instruction, namely, the Second Coming of the Son of Man. The beginning of the kingdom of heaven is in view. It will be similar to what the following story describes.

Jesus probably chose 10 virgins as a good round number that He could later divide into two groups easily. Such a number was also fairly common for marriages of His day. [Note: Edersheim, The Life . . ., 2:455.] The number probably does not have symbolic significance. Likewise that the women were virgins (Gr. parthenos, cf. Matthew 1:23) probably has no other significance than that they were young women who were friends of the bride and groom. Their virginity is not a factor in the parable. The "lamps" (Gr. lampas) could have been either torches or smaller lamps with wicks. "To meet" (Gr. hypantesis) connotes an official welcome of a visiting dignitary. [Note: M’Neile, p. 360.]

Most premillennial commentators have taken these virgins as representing Jews during the Tribulation. However some argued that they stand for Christians in the present age. [Note: E.g., Gaebelein, 2:225-36. Cf. Carr, p. 275; and Plummer, p. 343.] The arguments in favor of the second view are primarily what the passage does not contain such as the title "Son of Man," the phrase "times or seasons," and Old Testament quotations. However, arguments from silence are never strong, and they are unconvincing here. The better explanation is that this parable deals with the same time and people as the immediately preceding and following parables do. The ten virgins represent Jewish disciples in the Tribulation waiting for the coming of the King. That is not to say, however, that the principle of watchfulness that this parable teaches is not applicable to Christian disciple who await the Lord’s return for us at the Rapture.

Some background information concerning weddings in the ancient Near East is helpful in understanding this parable. [Note: See Yamauchi, 241-52; Jeremias, The Parables . . ., pp. 173-74; and Trench, Notes on . . ., pp. 200-201.] First, the parents arranged the marriage with the consent of the bride and groom. Second, the couple passed an engagement period of many months in which it would become clear, hopefully, that the bride was a virgin. Third, on the day of the wedding the groom would go to the bride’s house to claim his bride from her parents. Friends of his would accompany him. Fourth, the marriage ceremony would take place at the bride’s home. Fifth, on the evening of the day of the wedding the groom would take his bride home. This involved a nighttime procession through the streets. Sixth, the bride and groom would consummate their marriage at the groom’s home the night of the wedding ceremony. Seventh, there would be a banquet that would often last as long as seven days. This often took place at the groom’s home.

The scene in this parable is at night as the bride’s friends wait to welcome the couple and to enter the groom’s house where the banquet would begin shortly. All ten of the virgins knew that the groom’s appearing would be soon.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/matthew-25.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The parable of the 10 virgins 25:1-13

This parable helps disciples understand what it means to await the King’s return with prudence.

". . . the point is simply that readiness, whatever form it takes, is not something that can be achieved by a last-minute adjustment. It depends on long-term provision, and if that has been made, the wise disciple can sleep secure in the knowledge that everything is ready." [Note: France, The Gospel . . ., p. 947.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/matthew-25.html. 2012.

Barclay's Daily Study Bible

Chapter 25

THE FATE OF THE UNPREPARED ( Matthew 25:1-13 )

25:1-13 "What will happen in the Kingdom of Heaven is like the situation which arose when ten virgins took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish took their lamps, but did not take oil with them; but the wise took oil in their vessels together with their lamps. When the bridegroom was long in coming, all of them settled down to rest and slept. In the middle of the night the cry went up, 'Look you, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him!' Then all these virgins awoke, and they prepared their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise ones. 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out.' But the wise answered, 'No; we cannot do that in case there is not enough for us and for you. Go rather to those who sell oil, and buy it for yourselves.' While they went away to buy oil, the bridegroom came; and those who were ready entered with him into the marriage celebrations, and the door was shut. Later the rest of the virgins came too. 'Sir, sir,' they said, 'open the door to us.' But he answered, 'This is the truth I tell you--I do not know you.' Be on the watch then, for you do not know the day and the hour."

If we look at this parable with western eyes, it may seem an unnatural and a "made-up" story. But, in point of fact, it tells a story which could have happened at any time in a Palestinian village and which could still happen today.

A wedding was a great occasion. The whole village turned out to accompany the couple to their new home, and they went by the longest possible road, in order that they might receive the glad good wishes of as many as possible. "Everyone," runs the Jewish saying, "from six to sixty will follow the marriage drum." The Rabbis agreed that a man might even abandon the study of the law to share in the joy of a wedding feast.

The point of this story lies in a Jewish custom which is very different from anything we know. When a couple married, they did not go away for a honeymoon; they stayed at home; for a week they kept open house; they were treated, and even addressed, as prince and princess; it was the gladdest week in all their lives. To the festivities of that week their chosen friends were admitted; and it was not only the marriage ceremony, it was also that joyous week that the foolish virgins missed, because they were unprepared.

The story of how they missed it all is perfectly true to life. Dr. J. Alexander Findlay tells of what he himself saw in Palestine. "When we were approaching the gates of a Galilaean town," he writes, "I caught a sight of ten maidens gaily clad and playing some kind of musical instrument, as they danced along the road in front of our car; when I asked what they were doing, the dragoman told me that they were going to keep the bride company till her bridegroom arrived. I asked him if there was any chance of seeing the wedding, but he shook his head, saying in effect: 'It might be tonight, or tomorrow night, or in a fortnight's time; nobody ever knows for certain.' Then he went on to explain that one of the great things to do, if you could, at a middle-class wedding in Palestine was to catch the bridal party napping. So the bridegroom comes unexpectedly, and sometimes in the middle of the night; it is true that he is required by public opinion to send a man along the street to shout: 'Behold! the bridegroom is coming!' but that may happen at any time; so the bridal party have to be ready to go out into the street at any time to meet him, whenever he chooses to come. ... Other important points are that no one is allowed on the streets after dark without a lighted lamp, and also that, when the bridegroom has once arrived, and the door has been shut, late-comers to the ceremony are not admitted." There the whole drama of Jesus' parable is re-enacted in the twentieth century. Here is no synthetic story but a slice of life from a village in Palestine.

Like so many of Jesus' parables, this one has an immediate and local meaning, and also a wider and universal meaning.

In its immediate significance it was directed against the Jews. they were the chosen people; their whole history should have been a preparation for the coming of the Son of God; they ought to have been prepared for him when he came. Instead they were quite unprepared and therefore were shut out. Here in dramatic form is the tragedy of the unpreparedness of the Jews.

But the parable has at least two universal warnings.

(i) It warns us that there are certain things which cannot be obtained at the last minute. It is far too late for a student to be preparing when the day of the examination has come. It is too late for a man to acquire a skill, or a character, if he does not already possess it, when some task offers itself to him. Similarly, it is easy to leave things so late that we can no longer prepare ourselves to meet with God. When Mary of Orange was dying, her chaplain sought to tell her of the way of salvation. Her answer was: "I have not left this matter to this hour." To be too late is always tragedy.

(ii) It warns us that there are certain things which cannot be borrowed. The foolish virgins found it impossible to borrow oil, when they discovered they needed it. A man cannot borrow a relationship with God; he must possess it for himself. A man cannot borrow a character; he must be clothed with it. We cannot always be living on the spiritual capital which others have amassed. There are certain things we must win or acquire for ourselves, for we cannot borrow them from others.

Tennyson took this parable and turned it into verse in the song the little novice sang to Guinevere the queen, when Guinevere had too late discovered the cost of sin:

"Late, late so late! and dark the night and chill!

Late, late so late! but we can enter still.

Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.

No light had we; for that we do repent;

And learning this, the bridegroom will relent.

Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.

No light: so late! and dark and chill the night!

O let us in, that we may find the light!

Too late, too late: ye cannot enter now.

Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet?

O let us in, tho' late, to kiss his feet!

No, no, too late! ye cannot enter now."

There is no knell so laden with regret as the sound of the words too late.

THE CONDEMNATION OF THE BURIED TALENT ( Matthew 25:14-30 )

25:14-30 Even so, a man who was going abroad called his servants, and handed over his belongings to them. To one he gave a thousand pounds; to another five hundred pounds; to another two hundred and fifty pounds; to each according to his individual ability. So he went away. Straightway the man who had received the thousand pounds went and worked with them, and made another thousand pounds. In the same way the man who had received the five hundred pounds made another five hundred pounds of profit. But the man who had received the two hundred and fifty pounds went away and dug up the earth, and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those servants came, and struck a reckoning with them. The one who had received the thousand pounds came and brought another thousand pounds. 'Sir,' he said, 'you gave me a thousand pounds. Look! I have made a profit of another thousand pounds.' His master said to him, 'Well done! good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things; I will put you in charge over many things; enter into the joy of your master.' The one who had received the five hundred pounds came and said, 'Sir, you handed over to me five hundred pounds. Look! I have made a profit of another five hundred pounds.' His master said to him, 'Well done! good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge over many things.' The one who had received the two hundred and fifty pounds came also. 'Sir,' he said, 'I knew that you are a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you do not winnow. So I was afraid, and I went away and hid your two hundred and fifty pounds in the earth. Look! you have what is yours.' The master answered him, 'Evil and timid servant! You were well aware that I reap where I have not sowed, and that I gather where I have not winnowed. You ought to have put my money out to the bankers, and when I came I would have received back what is my own with interest. Take, then, the two hundred and fifty pounds from him, and give it to him who has the two thousand pounds. For to everyone who has, it will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away from him. And cast the useless servant into the outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth there.'"

Like the preceding one this parable had an immediate lesson for those who heard it for the first time, and a whole series of permanent lessons for us today. It is always known as the Parable of the Talents; in our translation we have changed the talents into modern currency. The talent was not a coin, it was a weight; and therefore its value obviously depended on whether the coinage involved was copper, gold or sliver. The commonest metal involved was silver; and the value of a talent of silver was about 240 British pounds. It is on that basis that we have made the translations of the various sums.

There can be no doubt that originally in this parable the whole attention is riveted on the useless servant. There can be little doubt that he stands for the Scribes and the Pharisees, and for their attitude to the Law and the truth of God. The useless servant buried his talent in the ground, in order that he might hand it back to his master exactly as it was. The 'Whole aim of the Scribes and Pharisees was to keep the Law exactly as it was. In their own phrase, they sought "to build a fence around the Law." Any change, any development, any alteration, anything new was to them anathema. Their method involved the paralysis of religious truth.

Like the man with the talent, they desired to keep things exactly as they were--and it is for that that they are condemned. In this parable Jesus tells us that there can be no religion without adventure, and that God can find no use for the shut mind. But there is much more in this parable than that.

(i) It tells us that God gives men differing gifts. One man received five talents, another two, and another one. It is not a man's talent, which matters; what matters is how he uses it. God never demands from a man abilities which he has not got; but he does demand that a man should use to the full the abilities which he does possess. Men are not equal in talent; but men can be equal in effort. The parable tells us that whatever talent we have, little or great, we must lay it at the service of God.

(ii) It tells us that the reward of work well done is still more work to do. The two servants who had done well are not told to lean back and rest on their oars because they have done well. They are given greater tasks and greater responsibilities in the work of the master.

(iii) It tells us that the man who is punished is the man who will not try. The man with the one talent did not lose his talent; he simply did nothing with it. Even if he had adventured with it and lost it, it would have been better than to do nothing at all. It is always a temptation for the one talent man to say, "I have so small a talent and I can do so little with it. It is not worth while to try, for all the contribution I can make." The condemnation is for the man who, having even one talent, will not try to use it, and will not risk it for the common good.

(iv) It lays down a rule of life which is universally true. It tells us that to him who has more will be given, and he who has not will lose even what he has. The meaning is this. If a man has a talent and exercises it, he is progressively able to do more with it. But, if he has a talent and fails to exercise it, he will inevitably lose it. If we have some proficiency at a game or an art, if we have some gift for doing something, the more we exercise that proficiency and that gift, the harder the work and the bigger the task we will be able to tackle. Whereas, if we fail to use it, we lose it. That is equally true of playing golf or playing the piano, or singing songs or writing sermons, of carving wood or thinking out ideas. It is the lesson of life that the only way to keep a gift is to use it in the service of God and in the service of our fellow-men.

GOD'S STANDARD OF JUDGMENT ( Matthew 25:31-46 )

25:31-46 "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and an the angels with him, then he will take his seat upon the throne of his glory, and all nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate them from each other, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, enter into possession of the Kingdom which has been prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you gathered me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you came to visit me; in prison, and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we gee you hungry, and nourish you? Or thirsty, and gave you to drink? When did we see you a stranger, and gather you to us? Or naked, and clothed you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?' And the King will answer them, 'This is the truth I tell you--insomuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' then he will say to those on the left, 'Go from me, you cursed ones, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and you did not give me to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not gather me to you; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, and you did not come to visit me.' Then these too will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not render service to you?' Then he will answer them, 'This is the truth I tell you--in so far as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go away to eternal life."

This is one of the most vivid parables Jesus ever spoke, and the lesson is crystal clear--that God will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need. His judgment does not depend on the knowledge we have amassed, or the fame that we have acquired, or the fortune that we have gained, but on the help that we have given. And there are certain things which this parable teaches us about the help which we must give.

(i) It must be help in simple things. The things which Jesus picks out--giving a hungry man a meal, or a thirsty man a drink, welcoming a stranger, cheering the sick, visiting the prisoner--are things which anyone can do. It is not a question of giving away thousands of pounds, or of writing our names in the annals of history; it is a case of giving simple help to the people we meet every day. There never was a parable which so opened the way to glory to the simplest people.

(ii) It must be help which is uncalculating. Those who helped did not think that they were helping Christ and thus piling up eternal merit; they helped because they could not stop themselves. It was the natural, instinctive, quite uncalculating reaction of the loving heart. Whereas, on the other hand, the attitude of those who failed to help was; "If we had known it was you we would gladly have helped; but we thought it was only some common man who was not worth helping." It is still true that there are those who will help if they are given praise and thanks and publicity; but to help like that is not to help, it is to pander to self-esteem. Such help is not generosity; it is disguised selfishness. The help which wins the approval of God is that which is given for nothing but the sake of helping.

(iii) Jesus confronts us with the wonderful truth that all such help given is given to himself, and all such help withheld is withheld from himself. How can that be? If we really wish to delight a parent's heart, if we really wish to move him to gratitude the best way to do it is to help his child. God is the great Father; and the way to delight the heart of God is to help his children, our fellow-men.

There were two men who found this parable blessedly true. The one was Francis of Asissi; he was wealthy and high-born and high-spirited. But he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was out riding and met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer; and in his arms the face of the leper changed to the face of Christ.

The other was Martin of Tours. He was a Roman soldier and a Christian. One cold winter day, as he was entering a city, a beggar stopped him and asked for alms. Martin had no money; but the beggar was blue and shivering with cold, and Martin gave what he had. He took off his soldier's coat, worn and frayed as it was; he cut it in two and gave half of it to the beggar man. That night he had a dream. In it he saw the heavenly places and all the angels and Jesus in the midst of them; and Jesus was wearing half of a Roman soldier's cloak. One of the angels said to him, "Master, why are you wearing that battered old cloak? Who gave it to you?" And Jesus answered softly, "My servant Martin gave it to me."

When we learn the generosity which without calculation helps men in the simplest things, we too will know the joy of helping Jesus Christ himself.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/matthew-25.html. 1956-1959.

Barclay's Daily Study Bible

Chapter 25

THE FATE OF THE UNPREPARED ( Matthew 25:1-13 )

25:1-13 "What will happen in the Kingdom of Heaven is like the situation which arose when ten virgins took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish took their lamps, but did not take oil with them; but the wise took oil in their vessels together with their lamps. When the bridegroom was long in coming, all of them settled down to rest and slept. In the middle of the night the cry went up, 'Look you, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him!' Then all these virgins awoke, and they prepared their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise ones. 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out.' But the wise answered, 'No; we cannot do that in case there is not enough for us and for you. Go rather to those who sell oil, and buy it for yourselves.' While they went away to buy oil, the bridegroom came; and those who were ready entered with him into the marriage celebrations, and the door was shut. Later the rest of the virgins came too. 'Sir, sir,' they said, 'open the door to us.' But he answered, 'This is the truth I tell you--I do not know you.' Be on the watch then, for you do not know the day and the hour."

If we look at this parable with western eyes, it may seem an unnatural and a "made-up" story. But, in point of fact, it tells a story which could have happened at any time in a Palestinian village and which could still happen today.

A wedding was a great occasion. The whole village turned out to accompany the couple to their new home, and they went by the longest possible road, in order that they might receive the glad good wishes of as many as possible. "Everyone," runs the Jewish saying, "from six to sixty will follow the marriage drum." The Rabbis agreed that a man might even abandon the study of the law to share in the joy of a wedding feast.

The point of this story lies in a Jewish custom which is very different from anything we know. When a couple married, they did not go away for a honeymoon; they stayed at home; for a week they kept open house; they were treated, and even addressed, as prince and princess; it was the gladdest week in all their lives. To the festivities of that week their chosen friends were admitted; and it was not only the marriage ceremony, it was also that joyous week that the foolish virgins missed, because they were unprepared.

The story of how they missed it all is perfectly true to life. Dr. J. Alexander Findlay tells of what he himself saw in Palestine. "When we were approaching the gates of a Galilaean town," he writes, "I caught a sight of ten maidens gaily clad and playing some kind of musical instrument, as they danced along the road in front of our car; when I asked what they were doing, the dragoman told me that they were going to keep the bride company till her bridegroom arrived. I asked him if there was any chance of seeing the wedding, but he shook his head, saying in effect: 'It might be tonight, or tomorrow night, or in a fortnight's time; nobody ever knows for certain.' Then he went on to explain that one of the great things to do, if you could, at a middle-class wedding in Palestine was to catch the bridal party napping. So the bridegroom comes unexpectedly, and sometimes in the middle of the night; it is true that he is required by public opinion to send a man along the street to shout: 'Behold! the bridegroom is coming!' but that may happen at any time; so the bridal party have to be ready to go out into the street at any time to meet him, whenever he chooses to come. ... Other important points are that no one is allowed on the streets after dark without a lighted lamp, and also that, when the bridegroom has once arrived, and the door has been shut, late-comers to the ceremony are not admitted." There the whole drama of Jesus' parable is re-enacted in the twentieth century. Here is no synthetic story but a slice of life from a village in Palestine.

Like so many of Jesus' parables, this one has an immediate and local meaning, and also a wider and universal meaning.

In its immediate significance it was directed against the Jews. they were the chosen people; their whole history should have been a preparation for the coming of the Son of God; they ought to have been prepared for him when he came. Instead they were quite unprepared and therefore were shut out. Here in dramatic form is the tragedy of the unpreparedness of the Jews.

But the parable has at least two universal warnings.

(i) It warns us that there are certain things which cannot be obtained at the last minute. It is far too late for a student to be preparing when the day of the examination has come. It is too late for a man to acquire a skill, or a character, if he does not already possess it, when some task offers itself to him. Similarly, it is easy to leave things so late that we can no longer prepare ourselves to meet with God. When Mary of Orange was dying, her chaplain sought to tell her of the way of salvation. Her answer was: "I have not left this matter to this hour." To be too late is always tragedy.

(ii) It warns us that there are certain things which cannot be borrowed. The foolish virgins found it impossible to borrow oil, when they discovered they needed it. A man cannot borrow a relationship with God; he must possess it for himself. A man cannot borrow a character; he must be clothed with it. We cannot always be living on the spiritual capital which others have amassed. There are certain things we must win or acquire for ourselves, for we cannot borrow them from others.

Tennyson took this parable and turned it into verse in the song the little novice sang to Guinevere the queen, when Guinevere had too late discovered the cost of sin:

"Late, late so late! and dark the night and chill!

Late, late so late! but we can enter still.

Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.

No light had we; for that we do repent;

And learning this, the bridegroom will relent.

Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.

No light: so late! and dark and chill the night!

O let us in, that we may find the light!

Too late, too late: ye cannot enter now.

Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet?

O let us in, tho' late, to kiss his feet!

No, no, too late! ye cannot enter now."

There is no knell so laden with regret as the sound of the words too late.

THE CONDEMNATION OF THE BURIED TALENT ( Matthew 25:14-30 )

25:14-30 Even so, a man who was going abroad called his servants, and handed over his belongings to them. To one he gave a thousand pounds; to another five hundred pounds; to another two hundred and fifty pounds; to each according to his individual ability. So he went away. Straightway the man who had received the thousand pounds went and worked with them, and made another thousand pounds. In the same way the man who had received the five hundred pounds made another five hundred pounds of profit. But the man who had received the two hundred and fifty pounds went away and dug up the earth, and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those servants came, and struck a reckoning with them. The one who had received the thousand pounds came and brought another thousand pounds. 'Sir,' he said, 'you gave me a thousand pounds. Look! I have made a profit of another thousand pounds.' His master said to him, 'Well done! good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things; I will put you in charge over many things; enter into the joy of your master.' The one who had received the five hundred pounds came and said, 'Sir, you handed over to me five hundred pounds. Look! I have made a profit of another five hundred pounds.' His master said to him, 'Well done! good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge over many things.' The one who had received the two hundred and fifty pounds came also. 'Sir,' he said, 'I knew that you are a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you do not winnow. So I was afraid, and I went away and hid your two hundred and fifty pounds in the earth. Look! you have what is yours.' The master answered him, 'Evil and timid servant! You were well aware that I reap where I have not sowed, and that I gather where I have not winnowed. You ought to have put my money out to the bankers, and when I came I would have received back what is my own with interest. Take, then, the two hundred and fifty pounds from him, and give it to him who has the two thousand pounds. For to everyone who has, it will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away from him. And cast the useless servant into the outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth there.'"

Like the preceding one this parable had an immediate lesson for those who heard it for the first time, and a whole series of permanent lessons for us today. It is always known as the Parable of the Talents; in our translation we have changed the talents into modern currency. The talent was not a coin, it was a weight; and therefore its value obviously depended on whether the coinage involved was copper, gold or sliver. The commonest metal involved was silver; and the value of a talent of silver was about 240 British pounds. It is on that basis that we have made the translations of the various sums.

There can be no doubt that originally in this parable the whole attention is riveted on the useless servant. There can be little doubt that he stands for the Scribes and the Pharisees, and for their attitude to the Law and the truth of God. The useless servant buried his talent in the ground, in order that he might hand it back to his master exactly as it was. The 'Whole aim of the Scribes and Pharisees was to keep the Law exactly as it was. In their own phrase, they sought "to build a fence around the Law." Any change, any development, any alteration, anything new was to them anathema. Their method involved the paralysis of religious truth.

Like the man with the talent, they desired to keep things exactly as they were--and it is for that that they are condemned. In this parable Jesus tells us that there can be no religion without adventure, and that God can find no use for the shut mind. But there is much more in this parable than that.

(i) It tells us that God gives men differing gifts. One man received five talents, another two, and another one. It is not a man's talent, which matters; what matters is how he uses it. God never demands from a man abilities which he has not got; but he does demand that a man should use to the full the abilities which he does possess. Men are not equal in talent; but men can be equal in effort. The parable tells us that whatever talent we have, little or great, we must lay it at the service of God.

(ii) It tells us that the reward of work well done is still more work to do. The two servants who had done well are not told to lean back and rest on their oars because they have done well. They are given greater tasks and greater responsibilities in the work of the master.

(iii) It tells us that the man who is punished is the man who will not try. The man with the one talent did not lose his talent; he simply did nothing with it. Even if he had adventured with it and lost it, it would have been better than to do nothing at all. It is always a temptation for the one talent man to say, "I have so small a talent and I can do so little with it. It is not worth while to try, for all the contribution I can make." The condemnation is for the man who, having even one talent, will not try to use it, and will not risk it for the common good.

(iv) It lays down a rule of life which is universally true. It tells us that to him who has more will be given, and he who has not will lose even what he has. The meaning is this. If a man has a talent and exercises it, he is progressively able to do more with it. But, if he has a talent and fails to exercise it, he will inevitably lose it. If we have some proficiency at a game or an art, if we have some gift for doing something, the more we exercise that proficiency and that gift, the harder the work and the bigger the task we will be able to tackle. Whereas, if we fail to use it, we lose it. That is equally true of playing golf or playing the piano, or singing songs or writing sermons, of carving wood or thinking out ideas. It is the lesson of life that the only way to keep a gift is to use it in the service of God and in the service of our fellow-men.

GOD'S STANDARD OF JUDGMENT ( Matthew 25:31-46 )

25:31-46 "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and an the angels with him, then he will take his seat upon the throne of his glory, and all nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate them from each other, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, enter into possession of the Kingdom which has been prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you gathered me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you came to visit me; in prison, and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we gee you hungry, and nourish you? Or thirsty, and gave you to drink? When did we see you a stranger, and gather you to us? Or naked, and clothed you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?' And the King will answer them, 'This is the truth I tell you--insomuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' then he will say to those on the left, 'Go from me, you cursed ones, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and you did not give me to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not gather me to you; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, and you did not come to visit me.' Then these too will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not render service to you?' Then he will answer them, 'This is the truth I tell you--in so far as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go away to eternal life."

This is one of the most vivid parables Jesus ever spoke, and the lesson is crystal clear--that God will judge us in accordance with our reaction to human need. His judgment does not depend on the knowledge we have amassed, or the fame that we have acquired, or the fortune that we have gained, but on the help that we have given. And there are certain things which this parable teaches us about the help which we must give.

(i) It must be help in simple things. The things which Jesus picks out--giving a hungry man a meal, or a thirsty man a drink, welcoming a stranger, cheering the sick, visiting the prisoner--are things which anyone can do. It is not a question of giving away thousands of pounds, or of writing our names in the annals of history; it is a case of giving simple help to the people we meet every day. There never was a parable which so opened the way to glory to the simplest people.

(ii) It must be help which is uncalculating. Those who helped did not think that they were helping Christ and thus piling up eternal merit; they helped because they could not stop themselves. It was the natural, instinctive, quite uncalculating reaction of the loving heart. Whereas, on the other hand, the attitude of those who failed to help was; "If we had known it was you we would gladly have helped; but we thought it was only some common man who was not worth helping." It is still true that there are those who will help if they are given praise and thanks and publicity; but to help like that is not to help, it is to pander to self-esteem. Such help is not generosity; it is disguised selfishness. The help which wins the approval of God is that which is given for nothing but the sake of helping.

(iii) Jesus confronts us with the wonderful truth that all such help given is given to himself, and all such help withheld is withheld from himself. How can that be? If we really wish to delight a parent's heart, if we really wish to move him to gratitude the best way to do it is to help his child. God is the great Father; and the way to delight the heart of God is to help his children, our fellow-men.

There were two men who found this parable blessedly true. The one was Francis of Asissi; he was wealthy and high-born and high-spirited. But he was not happy. He felt that life was incomplete. Then one day he was out riding and met a leper, loathsome and repulsive in the ugliness of his disease. Something moved Francis to dismount and fling his arms around this wretched sufferer; and in his arms the face of the leper changed to the face of Christ.

The other was Martin of Tours. He was a Roman soldier and a Christian. One cold winter day, as he was entering a city, a beggar stopped him and asked for alms. Martin had no money; but the beggar was blue and shivering with cold, and Martin gave what he had. He took off his soldier's coat, worn and frayed as it was; he cut it in two and gave half of it to the beggar man. That night he had a dream. In it he saw the heavenly places and all the angels and Jesus in the midst of them; and Jesus was wearing half of a Roman soldier's cloak. One of the angels said to him, "Master, why are you wearing that battered old cloak? Who gave it to you?" And Jesus answered softly, "My servant Martin gave it to me."

When we learn the generosity which without calculation helps men in the simplest things, we too will know the joy of helping Jesus Christ himself.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/matthew-25.html. 1956-1959.

Gann's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 25:1

    Jesus’ picture seems to be a collery of the wedding scenes he often used in parables (see also John 14:2-3 ff). When a man became engaged he would add a room onto his father’s compound. He didn’t know just how long it would take him to complete it, but when he did he would go and get his new bride for the wedding ceremony and bring her back to their new residence.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gbc/matthew-25.html. 2021.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Then shall the kingdom of heaven,.... The Gospel church state; :- either as it would be a little before the coming of the son of man to take vengeance on the Jews; or as it will be a little before his second coming to judgment: for the parable is manifestly connected with, and refers to the preceding chapter, which chiefly treats of Jerusalem's destruction: but though the Jews were in great security before their utter ruin, yet it does not appear that the Christian church was then in such a lukewarm, drowsy, and sleepy condition, as this parable represents; and since, in the latter part of the preceding chapter, there are some hints of Christ's second and last coming; when the servant found doing his Lord's will, will be greatly honoured, and the wicked, cruel, and licentious servant will be severely punished; and since, at the close of this and the following parable, there is a very lively description given of the last judgment; as also, because it appears elsewhere, that such will be the formal, lukewarm, cold, indifferent, secure, and sleepy state of the church, before the second coming of Christ: it seems right and best to understand this parable, and the following, as having respect to that: and that the design of it is to show, what will be the case of professors at that time; the difference between nominal and real Christians; how far persons may go in a profession of religion, and yet, at last, be shut out of heaven: as also the suddenness of Christ's coming; the necessity of being ready for it; and how watchful the saints should be, that they be not surprised with it. Now some time before this, the Gospel church state, or the body of professing Christians, will

be likened unto ten virgins; to "virgins" for quality; being betrothed ones to Christ, at least in profession; and because of the singleness of their love, and chaste adherence to him, however, as they will declare, and which, in some of them, will be fact; and for their beauty, comeliness, and gay attire, being, as they will profess, clothed with the righteousness of Christ; with that fine linen, clean and white, with cloth of gold, and raiment of needlework, and so perfectly comely through his comeliness: and for their purity and uncorruptness of doctrine, worship, and conversation, at least in appearance, and which will be true of many of them; and all, from their profession, will bear the same character: these for their quantity and number, are compared to "ten" virgins; which may, perhaps, denote the small number of professors at this time; see Genesis 18:32 that there will be but few, that will then name the name of Christ, and fewer still who will not have defiled their garments, and be virgins indeed. The number "ten" was greatly taken notice of, and used among the Jews: a congregation, with them, consisted of ten persons, and less than that number did not make one f: and wherever there were ten persons in a place, they were obliged to build a synagogue g. Ten elders of the city were witnesses of Boaz's taking Ruth to be his wife, Ruth 4:2. Now it may be in reference to the former of these, that this number ten is here expressed, since the parable relates to the congregated churches of Christ, or to Christ's visible church on earth: moreover, they say, that

"with less than ten they did not divide the "shema", (i.e. "hear O Israel", and say any part of the blessings that went before it;) nor did (the messenger of the congregation) go before the ark (to pray); nor did (the priests) lift up their hands (to bless the people); nor did they read in the law (in the congregation); nor did they dismiss (the people) with (a passage out of one of) the prophets; nor did they make a standing, and a sitting (when they carried the dead to the grave, which used to be done seven times, to weep over the dead); nor did they say the blessing of the mourners, nor the comforts of the mourners (when they returned from the grave, and stood in a row to comfort the mourner; and there was no row less than ten); וברכת חתנים, "nor the blessing of the bridegrooms",''

which consisted of seven blessings, and this was not said but in the presence of ten persons h: to which there may be an allusion here: for the whole alludes to the solemnities of a marriage among the Jews, when the bridegroom fetched home his bride from her father's house, attended with his friends, the children of the bridechamber, and which was usually done in the night: and, at the same time, the bride was waiting for him, accompanied with virgins, or bridemaids; see Psalms 45:14 who, when they perceived the bridegroom coming, went out with lamps, or torches, to meet him, and conduct him to her; hence it follows,

which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. The Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Persic versions, add, "and the bride", contrary to the "Greek" copies, excepting the Cambridge copy of Beza's. Nor do the Arabic and Ethiopic versions so read; nor Munster's Hebrew Gospel; nor does it agree with the above custom. By "the bridegroom" is meant Christ, who stands in this relation to his church and people; he saw them in the glass of the purposes and decrees of God, and loved them, and asked them of his father to be given him as his spouse and bride; and who did give them to him, when he secretly betrothed them to himself, in the everlasting covenant, as he does their particular persons at conversion, and will consummate the marriage of them all at the last day; and, in the mean while, acts the part of a bridegroom to them; he loves them as a bridegroom loves his bride, with a love prior to theirs, free and unmerited; with a love of complacency and delight, which is single and chaste, strong and affectionate; constant and perpetual, wonderful, matchless, and inconceivable: he sympathizes with them, nourishes, and cherishes them as his own flesh; providing spiritual food, and rich clothing for them; and indulging them with intimate communion with himself, and interests them in all he has; and when he comes again a second time, he will appear under this character. His first appearance was mean, in the form of a servant, in the likeness of sinful flesh, in garments rolled in blood; but when he comes a second time, he will appear as a bridegroom in his nuptial robes; all his elect will be prepared for him, beautified and adorned as a bride for her husband; when he will come and take them home to himself, and will avow them to be his before his Father, and his holy angels: and which will be a time of great glory, and great joy. Now these virgins are said to take their lamps, and go forth to meet him: by their lamps are meant, either the word of God, the Scriptures of truth, particularly the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; which, like a lamp, were lighted in the evening of the Jewish dispensation, and will shine the brightest towards the end of the world: these are like lamps both to walk by, and work by, and were a light to all these virgins; some were savingly enlightened into them, and by them; and others only notionally, but were taken up, owned, and professed, as the rule of faith and practice, by them all; and that in order to meet and find the bridegroom, for they testify of him: or rather an external profession of religion is designed by the lamps, which is distinct from the oil of grace, and the vessel of the heart, in which that is; and is that into which the oil is put and burns, so as to become visible: and must be daily recruited, and trimmed with fresh supplies of grace from Christ, without which it cannot be kept up, nor will be of any use and service; and is what may go out, or be dropped and lost, as some of these lamps. Now this was what was taken up by them all; they all made a profession of Christ, and his Gospel: some of them took it up aright, upon an experience of the grace of God, and principles of grace wrought in their souls; others, without any experience, and without considering the nature, importance, and consequences of a profession: and so they all went forth to meet the bridegroom: some in the exercise of faith on him, and in his coming; in love to him, and his appearance; desiring, and longing to see him; expecting, and waiting for him: others only in a way of a visible profession of religion, and an outward attendance on ordinances. The custom here alluded to of meeting the bridegroom, and attending the bride home to his house in the night, with lighted torches, or lamps, and such a number of them as here mentioned, was not only the custom of the Jews, but of other eastern nations i. Jarchi says k, it was the custom of the Ishmaelites; his words are these:

"it was a custom in the land of Ishmael, to bring the bride from her father's house to her husband's house, בלילה, "in the night", before she entered the nuptial chamber; and to carry before her כעשר קונדסין, "about ten staves"; and upon the top of the staff was the form of a brazen dish, and in the midst of it, pieces of garments, oil, and pitch, which they set fire to, and lighted before her.''

Something like this is the custom of the East Indians now, which is thus related l:

"on the day of their marriage, the husband and wife being both in the same "palki", or "palanquin", (which is the ordinary way of carriage in the country, and is carried by four men upon their shoulders,) go out between seven and eight o'clock "at night", accompanied with all their kindred and friends; the trumpets and drums go before them; and they are "lighted" by a multitude of "massals", which are a kind of flambeaux; immediately behind the "palanquin" of the newly married couple, walk many "women", whose business is to sing verses, wherein they wish them all kind of prosperity.--The newly married couple go abroad in this equipage, for the space of some hours; after which they return to their own house, where the "women" and domestics wait for them: the whole house is enlightened with little lamps, and many of these "massals", already mentioned, are kept ready for their arrival, besides those that accompany them, and go before their "palanquin". This sort of lights are nothing else, but many pieces of old linen squeezed hard against one another, in a round figure, and forcibly thrust down into a mould of copper; those who hold them in one hand, have, in the other, a bottle of the same metal, with the mould copper, which is full of oil; and they take care to pour out of it, from time to time, upon the linen, which otherwise gives no light.''

f Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 6. T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 11. 3. g Maimon. Hilch. Tephillah, c. 11. sect. 1. h Misn. Megilia, c. 4. sect. 3. Maimon, Hilch. Tephilla, c. 8. sect. 4, 5. i Bartenora in Misn. Megilla, c. 4. sect. 3. T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 8. 2. k In Misn. Celim, c. 2. sect. 8. l The Agreement of Customs between the East Indiana and Jews, art. 17. p. 68, 69.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/matthew-25.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Parable of the Ten Virgins.


      1 Then 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.   3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:   4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.   5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.   6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.   7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.   8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.   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.   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.   11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.   12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.   13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

      Here,

      I. That in general which is to be illustrated is, the kingdom of heaven, the state of things under the gospel, the external kingdom of Christ, and the administration and success of it. Some of Christ's parables had shown us what it is like now in the present reception of it, as Matthew 13:1-40.13.52; Matthew 13:1-40.13.52 This tells us what it shall be like, when the mystery of God shall be finished, and that kingdom delivered up to the Father. The administration of Christ's government, towards the ready and the unready in the great day, may be illustrated by this similitude; or the kingdom is put for the subjects of the kingdom. The professors of Christianity shall then be likened to these ten virgins, and shall be thus distinguished.

      II. That by which it is illustrated, is, a marriage solemnity. It was a custom sometimes used among the Jews on that occasion, that the bridegroom came, attended with his friends, late in the night, to the house of the bride, where she expected him, attended with her bride-maids; who, upon notice given of the bridegrooms' approach, were to go out with lamps in their hands, to light him into the house with ceremony and formality, in order to the celebrating of the nuptials with great mirth. And some think that on these occasions they had usually ten virgins; for the Jews never held a synagogue, circumcised, kept the passover, or contracted marriage, but ten persons at least were present. Boaz, when he married Ruth, had ten witnesses,Ruth 4:2. Now in this parable,

      1. The Bridegroom is our Lord Jesus Christ; he is so represented in the Psalms 45:1-19.45.17, Song of Solomon 1:1-22.1.8, and often in the New Testament. It bespeaks his singular and superlative love to, and his faithful and inviolable covenant with, his spouse the church. Believers are now betrothed to Christ (Hosea 2:19); but the solemnizing of the marriage is reserved for the great day, when the bride, the Lamb's wife, will have made herself completely ready, Revelation 19:7; Revelation 19:9.

      2. The virgins are the professors of religion, members of the church; but here represented as her companions (Psalms 45:14), as elsewhere her children (Isaiah 54:1), her ornaments,Isaiah 49:18. They that follow the Lamb, are said to be virgins (Revelation 14:4); this denotes their beauty and purity; they are to be presented as chaste virgins to Christ,2 Corinthians 11:2. The bridegroom is a king; so these virgins are maids of honour, virgins without number (Song of Solomon 6:8), yet here said to be ten.

      3. The office of these virgins is to meet the bridegroom, which is as much their happiness as their duty. They come to wait upon the bridegroom when he appears, and in the mean time to wait for him. See here the nature of Christianity. As Christians, we profess ourselves to be, (1.) Attendants upon Christ, to do him honour, as the glorious Bridegroom, to be to him for a name and a praise, especially then when he shall come to be glorified in his saints. We must follow him as honorary servants do their masters, John 12:26. Hold up the name, and hold forth the praise of the exalted Jesus; this is our business. (2.) Expectants of Christ, and of his second coming. As Christians, we profess, not only to believe and look for, but to love and long for, the appearing of Christ, and to act in our whole conversation with a regard to it. The second coming of Christ is the centre in which all the lines of our religion meet, and to which the whole of the divine life hath a constant reference and tendency.

      4. Their chief concern is to have lights in their hands, when they attend the bridegroom, thus to do him honour and do him service. Note, Christians are children of light. The gospel is light, and they who receive it must not only be enlightened by it themselves, but must shine as lights, must hold it forth,Philippians 2:15; Philippians 2:16. This in general.

      Now concerning these ten virgins, we may observe,

      (1.) Their different character, with the proof and evidence of it.

      [1.] Their character was that five were wise, and five foolish (Matthew 25:2; Matthew 25:2); and wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness; so saith Solomon, a competent judge, Ecclesiastes 2:13. Note, Those of the same profession and denomination among men, may yet be of characters vastly different in the sight of God. Sincere Christians are the wise virgins, and hypocrites the foolish ones, as in another parable they are represented by wise and foolish builders. Note, Those are wise or foolish indeed, that are so in the affairs of their souls. True religion is true wisdom; sin is folly, but especially the sin of hypocrisy, for those are the greatest fools, that are wise in their own conceit, and those the worst of sinners, that feign themselves just men. Some observe from the equal number of the wise and foolish, what a charitable decorum (it is Archbishop Tillotson's expression) Christ observes, as if he would hope that the number of true believers was nearly equal to that of hypocrites, or, at least, would teach us to hope the best concerning those that profess religion, and to think of them with a bias to the charitable side. Though, in judging of ourselves, we ought to remember that the gate is strait, and few find it; yet, in judging of others, we ought to remember that the Captain of our salvation brings many sons to glory.

      [2.] The evidence of this character was in the very thing which they were to attend to; by that they are judged of.

      First, It was the folly of the foolish virgins, that they took their lamps, and took no oil with them,Matthew 25:3; Matthew 25:3. They had just the oil enough to make their lamps burn for the present, to make a show with, as if they intended to meet the bridegroom; but no cruse or bottle of oil with them for a recruit if the bridegroom tarried; thus hypocrites,

      1. They have no principle within. They have a lamp of profession in their hands, but have not in their hearts that stock of sound knowledge, rooted dispositions, and settled resolutions, which is necessary to carry them through the services and trials of the present state. They act under the influence of external inducements, but are void of spiritual life; like a tradesman, that sets up without a stock, or the seed on the stony ground, that wanted root.

      2. They have no prospect of, nor make provision for, what is to come. They took lamps for a present show, but not oil for after use. This incogitancy is the ruin of many professors; all their care is to recommend themselves to their neighbours, whom they now converse with, not to approve themselves to Christ, whom they must hereafter appear before; as if any thing will serve, provide it will but serve for the present. Tell them of things not seen as yet, and you are like Lot to his sons-in-law, as one that mocked. They do not provide for hereafter, as the ant does, nor lay up for the time to come,1 Timothy 6:19.

      Secondly, It was the wisdom of the wise virgins, that they took oil in their vessels with their lamps,Matthew 25:4; Matthew 25:4. They had a good principle within, which would maintain and keep up their profession. 1. The heart is the vessel, which it is our wisdom to get furnished; for, out of a good treasure there, good things must be brought; but if that root be rottenness, the blossom will be dust. 2. Grace is the oil which we must have in this vessel; in the tabernacle there was constant provision made of oil for the light,Exodus 35:14. Our light must shine before men in good works, but this cannot be, or not long, unless there be a fixed active principle in the heart, of faith in Christ, and love to God and our brethren, from which we must act in every thing we do in religion, with an eye to what is before us. They that took oil in their vessels, did it upon supposition that perhaps the bridegroom might tarry. Note, In looking forward it is good to prepare for the worst, to lay in for a long siege. But remember that this oil which keeps the lamps burning, is derived to the candlestick from Jesus Christ, the great and good Olive, by the golden pipes of the ordinances, as it is represented in that vision (Zechariah 4:2; Zechariah 4:3; Zechariah 4:12), which is explained John 1:16, Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

      (2.) Their common fault, during the bridegroom's delay; They all slumbered and slept,Matthew 25:5; Matthew 25:5. Observe here,

      [1.] The bridegroom tarried, that is, he did not come out so soon as they expected. What we look for as certain, we are apt to think is very near; many in the apostles' times imagined that the day of the Lord was at hand, but it is not so. Christ, as to us, seems to tarry, and yet really does not,Habakkuk 2:3. There is good reason for the Bridegroom's tarrying; there are many intermediate counsels and purposes to be accomplished, the elect must all be called in, God's patience must be manifested, and the saints' patience tried, the harvest of the earth must be ripened, and so must the harvest of heaven too. But though Christ tarry past our time, he will not tarry past the due time.

      [2.] While he tarried, those that waited for him, grew careless, and forgot what they were attending; They all slumbered and slept; as if they had given over looking for him; for when the Son of man cometh, he will not find faith,Luke 18:8. Those that inferred the suddenness of it from its certainty, when that answered not their expectation, were apt from the delay to infer its uncertainty. The wise virgins slumbered, and the foolish slept; so some distinguish it; however, they were both faulty. The wise virgins kept their lamps burning, but did not keep themselves awake. Note, Too many good Christians, when they have been long in profession, grow remiss in their preparations for Christ's second coming; they intermit their care, abate their zeal, their graces are not lively, nor their works found perfect before God; and though all love be not lost, yet the first love is left. If it was hard to the disciples to watch with Christ an hour, much more to watch with him an age. I sleep, saith the spouse, but my heart wakes, Observe, First, They slumbered, and then they slept. Note, One degree of carelessness and remissness makes way for another. Those that allow themselves in slumbering, will scarcely keep themselves from sleeping; therefore dread the beginning of spiritual decays; Venienti occurrite morbo--Attend to the first symptoms of disease. The ancients generally understood the virgins' slumbering and sleeping of their dying; they all died, wise and foolish (Psalms 49:10), before judgment-day. So Ferus, Antequam veniat sponsus omnibus obdormiscendum est, hoc est, moriendum--Before the Bridegroom come, all must sleep, that is, die. So Calvin. But I think it is rather to be taken as we have opened it.

      (3.) The surprising summons given them, to attend the bridegroom (Matthew 25:6; Matthew 25:6); At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh. Note, [1.] Though Christ tarry long, he will come at last; though he seem slow, he is sure. In his first coming, he was thought long by those that waited for the consolation of Israel; yet in the fulness of time he came; so his second coming, though long deferred, is not forgotten; his enemies shall find, to their cost, that forbearance is no acquittance; and his friends shall find, to their comfort, that the vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak, and not lie. The year of the redeemed is fixed, and it will come. [2.] Christ's coming will be at our midnight, when we least look for him, and are most disposed to take our rest. His coming for the relief and comfort of his people, often is when the good intended seems to be at the greatest distance; and his coming to reckon with his enemies, is when they put the evil day furthest from them. It was at midnight that the first-born of Egypt were destroyed, and Israel delivered, Exodus 12:29. Death often comes when it is least expected; the soul is required this night,Luke 12:20. Christ will come when he pleases, to show his sovereignty, and will not let us know when, to teach us our duty. [3.] When Christ comes, we must go forth to meet him. As Christians we are bound to attend all the motions of the Lord Jesus, and meet him in all his out-goings. When he comes to us at death, we must go forth out of the body, out of the world, to meet him with affections and workings of soul suitable to the discoveries we then expect him to make of himself. Go ye forth to meet him, is a call to those who are habitually prepared, to be actually ready. [4.] The notice given of Christ's approach, and the call to meet him, will be awakening; There was a cry made. His first coming was not with any observation at all, nor did they say, Lo, here is Christ, or Lo, he is there; he was in the world, and the world knew him not; but his second coming will be with the observation of all the world; Every eye shall see him. There will be a cry from heaven, for he shall descend with a shout, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment; and a cry from the earth too, a cry to rocks and mountains,Revelation 6:16.

      (4.) The address they all made to answer this summons (Matthew 25:7; Matthew 25:7); They all arose, and trimmed their lamps, snuffed them and supplied them with oil and went about with all expedition to put themselves in a posture to receive the bridegroom. Now, [1.] This, in the wise virgins, bespeaks an actual preparation for the Bridegroom's coming. Note, even those that are best prepared for death, have, upon the immediate arrests of it, work to do, to get themselves actually ready, that they may be found in peace (2 Peter 3:14), found doing (Matthew 24:46; Matthew 24:46), and not found naked,2 Corinthians 5:3. It will be a day of search and enquiry; and it concerns us to think how we shall then be found. When we see the day approaching, we must address ourselves to our dying work with all seriousness, renewing our repentance for sin, our consent to the covenant, our farewells to the world; and our souls must be carried out toward God in suitable breathings. [2.] In the foolish virgins, it denotes a vain confidence, and conceit of the goodness of their state, and their readiness for another world. Note, Even counterfeit graces will serve a man to make a show of when he comes to die, as well as they have done all his life long; the hypocrite's hopes blaze when they are just expiring, like a lightening before death.

      (5.) The distress which the foolish virgins were in, for want of oil,Matthew 25:8; Matthew 25:9. This bespeaks, [1.] The apprehensions which some hypocrites have of the misery of their state, even on this side death, when God opens their eyes to see their folly, and themselves perishing with a lie in their right hand. Or, however, [2.] The real misery of their state on the other side death, and in the judgment; how far their fair, but false, profession of religion will be from availing them any thing in the great day; see what comes of it.

      First, Their lamps are gone out. The lamps of hypocrites often go out in this life; when they who have begun in the spirit, end in the flesh, and the hypocrisy breaks out in an open apostasy, 2 Peter 2:20. The profession withers, and the credit of it is lost; the hopes fail, and the comfort of them is gone; how often is the candle of the wicked thus put out?Job 21:17. Yet many a hypocrite keeps up his credit, and the comfort of his profession, such as it is, to the last; but what is it when God taketh away his soul?Job 27:8. If his candle be not put out before him, it is put out with him,Job 18:5; Job 18:6. He shall lie down in sorrow,Isaiah 50:11. The gains of a hypocritical profession will not follow a man to judgment, Matthew 7:22; Matthew 7:23. The lamps are gone out, when the hypocrite's hope proves like the spider's web (Job 8:11, c.), and like the giving up of the ghost (Job 11:20), like Absalom's mule that left him in the oak.

      Secondly, They wanted oil to supply them when they were going out. Note, Those that take up short of true grace, will certainly find the want of it one time or other. An external profession well humoured may carry a man far, but it will not carry him through it may light him along this world, but the damps of the valley of the shadow of death will put it out.

      Thirdly, They would gladly be beholden to the wise virgins for a supply out of their vessels; Give us of your oil. Note, The day is coming, when carnal hypocrites would gladly be found in the condition of true Christians. Those who now hate the strictness of religion, will, at death and judgment, wish for the solid comforts of it. Those who care not to live the life, yet would die the death, of the righteous. The day is coming when those who now look with contempt upon humble contrite saints, would gladly get an interest in them, and would value those as their best friends and benefactors, whom now they set with the dogs of their flock. Give us of your oil; that is, "Speak a good word for us;" so some; but there is no occasion for vouchers in the great day, the Judge knows what is every man's true character. But is it not well that they are brought to say, Give us of your oil? It is so; but, 1. This request was extorted by sensible necessity. Note, Those will see their need of grace hereafter, when it should save them, who will not see their need of grace now, when it should sanctify and rule them. (2.) It comes too late. God would have given them oil, had they asked in time; but there is no buying when the market is over, no bidding when the inch of candle is dropped.

      Fourthly, They were denied a share in their companions' oil. It is a sad presage of a repulse with God, when they were thus repulsed by good people. The wise answered, Not so; that peremptory denial is not in the original, but supplied by the translators: these wise virgins would rather give a reason without a positive refusal, than (as many do) give a positive refusal without a reason. They were well inclined to help their neighbours in distress; but, We must not, we cannot, we dare not, do it, lest there be not enough for us and you; charity begins at home; but go, and buy for yourselves. Note, 1. Those that would be saved, must have grace of their own. Though we have benefit by the communion of saints, and the faith and prayers of others may now redound to our advantage, yet our own sanctification is indispensably necessary to our own salvation. The just shall live by his faith. Every man shall give account of himself, and therefore let every man prove his own work; for he cannot get another to muster for him in that day. 2. Those that have most grace, have none to spare; all we have, is little enough for ourselves to appear before God in. The best have need to borrow from Christ, but they have none to lend to any of their neighbours. The church of Rome, which dreams of works of supererogation and the imputation of the righteousness of saints, forgets that it was the wisdom of the wise virgins to understand that they had but oil enough for themselves, and none for others. But observe, These wise virgins do not upbraid the foolish with their neglect, nor boast of their own forecast, nor torment them with suggestions tending to despair, but give them the best advice the case will bear, Go ye rather to them that sell. Note, Those that deal foolishly in the affairs of their souls, are to be pitied, and not insulted over; for who made thee to differ? When ministers attend such as have been mindless of God and their souls all their days, but are under death-bed convictions; and, because true repentance is never too late, direct them to repent, and turn to God, and close with Christ; yet, because late repentance is seldom true, they do but as these wise virgins did by the foolish, even made the best of bad. They can but tell them what is to be done, if it be not too late, but whether the door may not be shut before it is done, is an unspeakable hazard. It is good advice now, if it be taken in time, Go to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. Note, Those that would have grace, must have recourse to, and attend upon, the means of grace. See Isaiah 55:1.

      (6.) The coming of the bridegroom, and the issue of all this different character of the wise and foolish virgins. See what came of it.

      [1.] While they went out to buy, the bridegroom came. Note, With regard to those that put off their great work to the last, it is a thousand to one, that they have not time to do it then. Getting grace is a work of time, and cannot be done in a hurry. While the poor awakened soul addresses itself, upon a sick bed, to repentance and prayer, in awful confusion, it scarcely knows which end to begin at, or what to do first; and presently death comes, judgment comes, and the work is undone, and the poor sinner undone for ever. This comes of having oil to buy when we should burn it, and grace to get when we should use it.

      The bridegroom came. Note, Our Lord Jesus will come to his people, at the great day, as a Bridegroom; will come in pomp and rich attire, attended with his friends: now that the Bridegroom is taken away from us, we fast (Matthew 9:15; Matthew 9:15), but then will be an everlasting feast. Then the Bridegroom will fetch home his bride, to be where he is (John 17:24), and will rejoice over his bride,Isaiah 62:5.

      [2.] They that were ready, went in with him to the marriage. Note, First, To be eternally glorified is to go in with Christ to the marriage, to be in his immediate presence, and in the most intimate fellowship and communion with him in a state of eternal rest, joy, and plenty. Secondly, Those, and those only, shall go to heaven hereafter, that are made ready for heaven here, that are wrought to the self-same thing,2 Corinthians 5:5. Thirdly, The suddenness of death, and of Christ's coming to us then, will be no obstruction to our happiness, if we have been habitually prepared.

      [3.] The door was shut, as is usual when all the company is come, that are to be admitted. The door was shut, First, To secure those that were within; that, being now made pillars in the house of our God, they may go no more out,Revelation 3:12. Adam was put into paradise, but the door was left open and so he went out again; but when glorified saints are put into the heavenly paradise, they are shut in. Secondly, To exclude those that were out. The state of saints and sinners will then be unalterably fixed, and those that are shut out then, will be shut out for ever. Now the gate is strait, yet it is open; but then it will be shut and bolted, and a great gulf fixed. This was like the shutting of the door of the ark when Noah was in; as he was thereby preserved, so all the rest were finally abandoned.

      [4.] The foolish virgins came when it was too late (Matthew 25:11; Matthew 25:11); Afterward came also the other virgins. Note, First, There are many that will seek admission into heaven when it is too late; as profane Esau, who afterward would have inherited the blessing. God and religion will be glorified by those late solicitations, though sinners will not be saved by them; it is for the honour of Lord, Lord, that, of fervent and importunate prayer, that those who slight it now, will flee to it shortly, and it will not be called whining and canting then. Secondly, The vain confidence of hypocrites will carry them very far in their expectations of happiness. They go to heaven-gate, and demand entrance, and yet are shut out; lifted up to heaven in a fond conceit of the goodness of their state, and yet thrust down to hell.

      [5.] They were rejected, as Esau was (Matthew 25:12; Matthew 25:12); I know you not. Note, We are all concerned to seek the Lord while he may be found; for there is a time coming when he will not be found. Time was, when, Lord, Lord, open to us, would have sped well, by virtue of that promise, Knock, and it shall be opened to you; but now it comes too late. The sentence is solemnly bound on with, Verily I say unto you, which amounts to no less than swearing in his wrath, that they shall never enter into his rest. It bespeaks him resolved, and them silenced by it.

      Lastly, Here is a practical inference drawn from this parable (Matthew 25:13; Matthew 25:13); Watch therefore, We had it before (Matthew 24:42; Matthew 24:42), and here it is repeated as the most needful caution. Note, 1. Our great duty is to watch, to attend to the business of our souls with the utmost diligence and circumspection. Be awake, and be wakeful. 2. It is a good reason for our watching, that the time of our Lord's coming is very uncertain; we know neither the day nor the hour. Therefore every day and every hour we must be ready, and not off our watch any day in the year, or any hour in the day. Be thou in the fear of the Lord every day and all the day long.

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Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Matthew 25:1". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/matthew-25.html. 1706.

Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible

We now enter on the Lord's final presentation of Himself to Jerusalem, traced, however, from Jericho; that is, from the city which had once been the stronghold of the power of the Canaanite. The Lord Jesus presenting Himself in grace, instead of sealing up the curse which had been pronounced on it, makes it contrariwise the witness of His mercy towards those who believed in Israel. It was there that two blind men (for Matthew, we have seen, abounds in this double token of the Lord's grace), sitting by the wayside, cried out, and most appropriately, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David!" They were led and taught of God. It was no question of law, yet strictly in His capacity of Messiah. Their appeal was in thorough keeping with the scene; they felt that the nation had no sense of its own blindness, and so addressed themselves at once to the Lord thus presenting Himself where divine power wrought of old. It is remarkable that, although there had been signs and wonders given from time to time in Israel, miraculous cures wrought, dead even raised to life, and leprosy cleansed, yet never, previously to the Messiah, do we hear of restoring the blind to sight. The Rabbis held that this was reserved for the Messiah; and certainly I am not aware of any case which contradicts their notion. They appear to have founded it upon the remarkable prophecy of Isaiah. (Isaiah 35:1-23.35.10) I do not affirm that the prophecy proves their notion to be true in isolating that miracle from the rest; but it is evident that the Spirit of God does connect emphatically the opening of blind eyes with the Son of David, as part of the blessing that He will surely diffuse when He comes to reign over the earth.

What appears further here is, that Jesus does not put the blessing off till His reign. Undoubtedly, the Lord in those days was giving signs and tokens of the world to come; and it was continued by His servants afterwards, as we know from the end of Mark, the Acts, etc. The miraculous powers which He exercised were samples of the power which would fill the earth with Jehovah's glory, casting out the enemy, and effacing the traces of his power, and making it the theatre of the manifestation of His kingdom here below. Thus our Lord gives evidence that the power was in Himself already, so that they need not lack because the kingdom was not yet come, in the full, manifest sense of the word. The kingdom was then come in His own person, as is said by Matthew (Matthew 12:1-40.12.50) as well as Luke. Still less did the blessing tarry for the sons of men. Virtue went forth at His kingly touch: this, at least, did not depend on the recognition of His claims by His people. He takes up this sign of Messiah's grace the opening of the eyes of the blind, itself no mean sign of the true condition of the Jews, could they but feel and own the truth. Alas! they sought not mercy and healing at His hands; but if there were any to call on Him at Jericho, the Lord would hearken. Here, then, Messiah answers to the cry of faith of these two blind men. When the multitude rebuked them, that they should hold their peace, they cried the more. The difficulties presented to faith only increased the energy of its desire; and so they cried, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David!" Jesus stands, calls the blind men, and says, "What will ye that I should do?" "Lord, that our eyes should be opened." And so it was according to their faith. Moreover, it is noted that .they follow Him, the pledge of what will be done when the people, by-and-by owning their blindness, and turning to Him for eyes, receive sight from the true Son of David to see Himself in the day of His earthly glory.

Matthew 21:1-40.21.46. The Lord thereon enters Jerusalem according to prophecy. He enters it, however, not in the outward pomp and glory which the nations seek after, but according to what the prophet's words now made good literally: Jehovah's King sitting on an ass in the spirit of humiliation. But even in this very thing, the fullest proof was afforded that He was Jehovah Himself. From first to last, as we have seen, it was Jehovah-Messiah. The word to the owner of the ass and colt was, "The Lord hath need of them." Accordingly, on this plea of Jehovah of hosts, all difficulties disappear, though unbelief finds there its stumbling-block. It was indeed the power of the Spirit of God that controlled his heart; even as to Christ "the porter opened." God left nothing undone on any side, but so ordered that the heart of this Israelite should yield a testimony that grace was at work, spite of the lamentable chill that stupefied the people. How good it is thus to raise up a witness, never indeed to leave it absolutely lacking, not even on the road to Jerusalem alas! the road to the cross of Christ. This, as we are told by the evangelist, came to pass that the word of the prophet should be fulfilled: "Tell ye the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek [for such meekness was the character of His presentation as yet], and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass." All must be in character with the Nazarene. Accordingly, the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded. The multitudes, too, were acted on a very great multitude. It was, of course, but a transient action, yet was it of God for a testimony, this moving of hearts by the Spirit. Not that it penetrated beneath the surface, but was rather a wave that passed over men's hearts, and then was gone. For the moment they followed, crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!" (applying to the Lord the congratulations of Psalms 118:1-19.118.29)

Jesus, according to our evangelist's account, comes to the temple and cleanses it. Remark the order as well as character of the events. In Mark this is not the first act which is recorded, but the curse on the barren fig tree, between His inspection of all things in the temple and His ejection of those who profaned it. The fact is, there were two days or occasions in which the fig tree comes before us, according to the gospel of Mark, who gives us the details more particularly than any one, notwithstanding his brevity. Matthew, on the contrary, while he is so careful in furnishing us frequently with a double witness of the Lord's gracious ways toward His land and people, gives only as one whole His dealing with both the fig tree and the temple. We should not know from the first evangelist of any interval in either case; nor could we learn from either the first or the third but that the cleansing of the temple occurred on His earlier visit. But we know from Mark, who sets forth an exact account of each of the two days, that in neither case was all done at once. This is the more remarkable because, in the instances of the two demoniacs, or the two blind men in Matthew, Mark, like Luke, speaks only of one. Nothing can account for such phenomena but design; and the more so as there is no ground to assume that each succeeding evangelist was kept in ignorance of his predecessor's account of our Lord. It is evident that Matthew compresses in one the two acts about the temple, as well as about the fig tree. His scope excluded such details, and, I am persuaded, rightly so, according to the mind of God's Spirit. It may render it all the more striking when one observes that Matthew was there, and Mark was not. He who actually saw these transactions, and who therefore, had he been a mere acting human witness, would peculiarly have dwelt on them; he, too, who had been a personal companion of the Lord, and therefore, had it been only a question of treasuring all up as one that loved the Lord, would, naturally speaking, have been the one of the three to have presented the amplest and minutest picture of the circumstance, is just the one who does nothing of the kind. Mark, as confessedly not being an eye-witness, might have been supposed to content himself with the general view. The reverse is the fact unquestionably. This is a notable feature, and not here alone, but elsewhere also. To me it proves that the gospels are the fruit of divine purpose in all, distinctively in each. It establishes the principle that, while God condescended to employ eye-witness, He never confined Himself to it, but, on the contrary, took full and particular care to shew that He is above all creature means of information. Thus it is in Mark and Luke we find some of the most important details; not in Matthew and John, though Matthew and John were eyewitnesses, Mark and Luke not. A double proof of this appears in what has been just advanced. To Matthew, acting according to what was given him of the Spirit, there was no sufficient reason to enter into points which did not bear dispensationally upon Israel. He therefore, as often elsewhere, presents the entrance into the temple in its completeness, as being the sole matter important to his aim. Any thoughtful mind must allow, if I do not greatly err, that entrance into detail would rather detract from the augustness of the act. The minute account has its just place, on the other hand, if it be a question of the Lord's method and bearing in His service and testimony. Here I want to know the particulars; there every trace and shade are full of instruction to me. If I have to serve Him, I do well to learn and ponder His every word and way; and in this the style and mode of Mark's gospel is invaluable. Who but feels that the movements, the pauses, the sighs, the groans, the very looks of the Lord, are fraught with blessing to the soul? But if, as with Matthew, the object be the great change of dispensation consequent on the rejection of the divine Messiah, (particularly if the point, as here, be not the opening out of coming mercy, but, on the contrary, a solemn and a stern judgment on Israel,) the Spirit of God contents Himself with a general notice of the painful scene, without indulging in any circumstantial account of it.

To this it is I attribute the palpable difference in this place of Matthew as compared with Mark, and with Luke also, who omits the cursed fig tree altogether, and gives the barest mention of the temple's cleansing (Matt. 19: 45). The notion of some men, especially a few men of learning, that the difference is due to ignorance on the part of one or other or all the evangelists, is of all explanations the worst, and even the least reasonable (to take the lowest ground); it is in plain truth the proof of their own ignorance, and the effect of positive unbelief. What I have ventured to suggest I believe to be a motive, and an adequate motive, for the difference; but we must remember that divine wisdom has depths of aim infinitely beyond our ability to sound. God may be pleased to vouchsafe us a perception of what is in His mind, if we be lowly, and diligent., and dependent on Him; or He may leave us ignorant of much, where we are careless or self-confident; but sure I am that the very points men ordinarily fix on as blots or imperfections in the inspired word are, when understood, among the strongest proofs of the admirable guidance of the Holy Spirit of God. Nor do I speak with such assurance because of the least satisfaction in any attainments, but because every lesson I have learnt and do learn from God's word brings with it the ever accumulating conviction that Scripture is perfect. For the question in hand, it is enough to produce sufficient evidence that it was not in ignorance, but with full knowledge, that Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote as they have done; I go farther, and say it was divine intention, rather than, as I conceive, any determinate plan of each evangelist, who may not himself have had before his mind the full scope of what the Holy Ghost gave him to write about it. There is no necessity to suppose that Matthew deliberately designed the result which we have in his gospel. How God brought it all to pass is another question, which, of course, it is not for us to answer. But the fact is, that the evangelist, who was present, he who consequently was an eyewitness of the details, does not give them; while one who was not there states them with the greatest particularity thoroughly harmonious with the account of him who was there, but, nevertheless, with differences as marked as their mutual corroborations. If we might rightly use, in this case, the word "originality," then originality is stamped upon the account of the second. I affirm, then, in the strictest sense, that divine design is stamped upon each, and that consistency of purpose is found everywhere in all the gospels.

The Lord then goes straight to the sanctuary. The kingly Son of David, destined to sit as the Priest upon His throne, the head of all things sacred as well as pertaining to the polity of Israel, we can understand why Matthew should describe such an One visiting the temple of Jerusalem; and why, instead of stopping, like Mark, to narrate that which attests His patient service, the whole scene should be given here without a break. We have seen that a similar principle accounts for the massing of the facts of His ministry in the end of the fourth chapter, and also for giving as a continuous whole the Sermon on the Mount, although, if we enquired into details, we might find many and considerable intervals; for, as undoubtedly those facts were grouped, so I believe also it was between the parts of that sermon. It fell in, however, with the object of Matthew's gospel to pass by all notice of these interstices, and so the Spirit of God has been pleased to interweave the whole into the beautiful web of the first gospel. In this way, as I believe, we may and should account for the difference between Matthew and Mark in this particular, without in the smallest degree casting the shadow of an imperfection upon one any more than on the other; while the fact, already pressed, that eye-witnessing, while employed as a servant, is never allowed to govern in the composition of the gospels, bespeaks loudly that men forget their true Author in searching into the writers He employed, and that the only key to all difficulties is the simple but weighty truth that it was God communicating His mind about Jesus, as by Matthew so by Mark.

Next, the Lord acts upon the word. He finds men selling and buying in the temple (that is, in its buildings) overthrows their tables, and turns out themselves, pronouncing the words of the prophets, both Isaiah and Jeremiah. But at the same time there is another trait noted here only: the blind and the lame (the "hated of David's soul,"2 Samuel 5:8; 2 Samuel 5:8) the pitied of David's greater Son and Lord) find a friend instead of an enemy in Him who loved them, the true beloved of God. Thus, at the very time He showed His hatred and righteous indignation at the covetous profaning of the temple, His love was flowing out to the desolate in Israel. Then we see the chief priests and scribes offended at the cries of the multitude and children, and turning reproachfully to the Lord, who allowed such a right royal welcome to be addressed to Him; but the Lord calmly takes His place according to the sure word of God. It is not now Deuteronomy that is before Him ( that He had quoted when tempted of Satan at the beginning of His career). But now, as they had borrowed the words of Psalms 118:1-19.118.29 (and who will say they were wrong?), so the Lord Jesus (and I say He was infinitely right) applies to them, as well as to Himself, the language ofPsalms 8:1-19.8.9; Psalms 8:1-19.8.9. Its central truth is the entrance of the rejected Messiah, the Son of man by humiliation and suffering unto death, into heavenly glory and dominion over all things. And this was just the point before the Lord: the little ones were thus in the truth and spirit of that oracle. They were sucklings, out of whose mouth praise was ordained for the despised Messiah soon to be in heaven, exalted there and preached here as the once crucified and now glorified Son of man. What could be more appropriate to that time, what more profoundly true for all time, yea, for eternity?

Matthew, as we have seen, crowds into one scene all mention of the barren fig tree (ver. 18-22), without distinguishing the curse of the one day from the manifestation of its accomplishment on the day following. Was it without moral import? Impossible. Did it convey the notion of a hearty and true reception of the Messiah, with fruits meet for His hand who had so long tended it, and failed in no care or culture? Was there anything answering to the welcome of the little ones who cried Hosanna, the type of what grace will effect in the day of His return, when the nation itself will contentedly, thankfully take the place of babes and sucklings, and find their best wisdom in so owning the One whom their fathers rejected, the man thereon exalted to heaven during the night of His people's unbelief? Meanwhile, another picture better suits them, the state and the doom of the fruitless fig tree. Why so scornful of the jubilant multitude, of the joyous babes? What was their condition before the eyes of Him who saw all that passed within their minds? They were no better than that fig tree, that solitary fig tree which met the Lord's eyes as He comes from Bethany, entering once more into Jerusalem. Like it, they, too, were full of promise; like its abundant foliage, they lacked not fair profession, but there was no fruit. That which made its barrenness evident was the fact that it was not yet the time of figs. Therefore, the unripe figs, the harbinger of harvest, ought to have been there. Had the season of figs been come, the fruit might have been already gathered; but that season having not yet arrived, beyond controversy the promise of the coming harvest should, and indeed must, have been still there, had any fruit been really borne. This, therefore, represented too truly what the Jew, what the nation, was in the eye of the Lord. He had come seeking fruit; but there was none; and the Lord pronounced this curse, "Henceforth let no fruit grow on thee for ever." And so it is. No fruit ever sprang from that generation. Another generation there must be; a total change must be wrought if there is to be fruit-bearing. Fruit of righteousness can only be through Jesus to God's glory; and Jesus they yet despised. Not that the Lord will give up Israel, but He will create a generation to come wholly different from the present Christ-rejecting one. Such an issue will be seen to be implied, if we compare our Lord's curse with the rest of the word of God, which points to better things yet in store for Israel.

But He adds more than this. It was not only that the Israel of that day should thus pass away, giving place to another generation, who, honouring the Messiah, will bear fruit to God; He tells the wondering disciples that, had they faith, the mountain would be cast into the sea. This appears to go farther than the disappearance of Israel as responsible to be a fruit-bearing people; it implies their whole polity dissolved; for the mountain is just as much the symbol of a power in the earth, an established world-power, as the fig tree is the special sign of Israel as responsible to produce' fruit for God; and it is clear that both figures have been abundantly verified. For the time Israel is passed away. After no long interval, the disciples saw Jerusalem not only taken, but completely torn as it were from the roots. The Romans came, as the executioners of the sentence of God (according to the just forebodings of the unjust high priest Caiaphas, who prophesied not without the Holy Ghost), and took away their place and nation, not because they did not, but because they did, kill Jesus their Messiah. Notoriously this total ruin of the Jewish state came to pass when the disciples had grown up to be 'a public witness to the world, before the apostles were all taken away from the earth; then their whole national polity sunk and disappeared when Titus sacked Jerusalem, and sold and scattered the people to the ends of the earth. I have no doubt that the Lord intended us to know the uprooting of the mountain just as much as the withering of the fig tree. The latter may be the simpler application of the two, and evidently more familiar to ordinary thought; but there seems no real reason to question, that if the one be meant symbolically, so too is the other. However this may be, these words of the Lord close that part of the subject.

We enter upon a new series in the rest of this chapter and the next. The religious rulers come before the Lord to put the first question that ever enters the minds of such men, "By what authority doest thou these things?" Nothing is more easily asked by those who assume that their own title is unimpeachable. Our Lord answers them by another question, which soon disclosed how thoroughly they themselves, in what was incomparably more serious, failed in moral competence. Who were they, to raise the question of His authority? As guides of religion, surely they ought to be able to decide that which was of the deepest consequence for their own souls, and for those of whom they assumed the spiritual charge. The question He puts involved indeed the answer to theirs; for had they answered Him in truth, this would have decided at once by what, and by whose, authority He acted as He did. "The baptism of John, whence was it (asks the Lord), from heaven, or of men?" There was no singleness of purpose, there was no fear of God, in these men so full of swelling words and fancied authority. Accordingly, instead of its being an answer from conscience declaring the truth as it was, they reason solely how to escape from the dilemma. The only question before their minds was, what answer would be politic? how best to get rid of the difficulty? Vain hope with Jesus! The base conclusion to which they were reduced is, "We cannot tell." It was a falsehood: but what of that, where the interests of religion and their own order were concerned? Without a blush, then, they answer the Saviour, "We cannot tell;" and the Lord with calm dignity strikes home His answer not, "I cannot tell," but, "Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things." Jesus knew and laid bare the secret springs of the heart; and the Spirit of God records it here for our instruction. It is the genuine universal type of worldly leaders of religion in conflict with the power of God. "If we shall say, From heaven, he will say unto us, Why did ye not, then, believe him? But if we shall say, Of men, we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet." If they owned John, they must bow to the authority of Jesus; if they rejected John, they feared the people. They were thus put to silence; for they would not risk loss of influence with the people, and they were determined at all cost to deny the authority of Jesus. All they cared about was themselves.

The Lord goes on and meets parabolically a wider question than that of the rulers, gradually enlarging the scope, till He terminates these instructions inMatthew 22:14; Matthew 22:14. First, He takes up sinful men where natural conscience works, and where conscience is gone. This is peculiar to Matthew: "A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went." He comes to the second, who was all complacency, and answers to the call, "I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto Him, The first. Jesus saith unto them [such is the application], Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him." (Matthew 21:28-40.21.32.) But He was not content with merely thus touching conscience in a way that was painful enough to the flesh; for they found that, spite of authority or anything else, those who professed most, if disobedient, were counted worse than the most depraved, who repented and did the will of God.

Next, our Lord looks at the entire people, and this from the commencement of their relations with God. In other words, He gives us in this parable the history of God's dealings with them. It was in no, way, so to speak, the accidental circumstance of how they behaved in one particular generation. The Lord sets out clearly what they had been all along, and what they were then. In the parable of the vineyard, they are tested as responsible in view of the claims of God, who had blessed them from the first with exceeding rich privileges. Then, in the parable of the marriage of the king's son, we see what they were, as tested by the grace or gospel of God. These are the two subjects of the parables following.

The householder, who lets out his vineyard to husbandmen, sets forth God trying the Jew, on the ground of blessings abundantly conferred upon him. Accordingly we have, first, servants sent, and then more, not only in vain, but with insult and increase of wrong. Then, at length, He sends His Son, saying, They will reverence my Son. This gives occasion for their crowning sin the utter rejection of all divine claims, in the death of the Son and Heir; for "they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him." "When the lord therefore of the vineyard comes," He asks, "what will he do unto these husbandmen?" They say unto Him, "He will miserably destroy these wicked men, and let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons."

The Lord accordingly pronounces according to the Scriptures, not leaving it merely to the answer of the conscience, "Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?" Then He applies further this prediction about the stone, connecting, it would appear, the allusion inPsalms 118:1-19.118.29; Psalms 118:1-19.118.29 with the prophecy ofDaniel 2:1-27.2.49; Daniel 2:1-27.2.49. The principle at least is applied to the case in hand, and, I need hardly say, with perfect truth and beauty; for in that day apostate Jews will be judged and destroyed, as well as Gentile powers. In two positions the stone was to be found. The one is here on the earth the humiliation, to wit, of the Messiah. Upon that Stone, thus humbled, unbelief trips and falls. But, again, when the Stone is exalted, another issue follows; for" the Stone of Israel," the glorified Son of man, shall descend in unsparing judgment, and crush His enemies together. When the chief priests and Pharisees had heard His parables, they perceived that He spake of them.

The Lord, however, turns in the next parable to the call of grace. It is a likeness of the kingdom of heaven. Here we are on new ground. It is striking to see this parable introduced here. In the gospel of Luke there is a similar one, though it might be too much to affirm that it is the same. Certainly an analogous parable is found, but in a totally different connection. Besides, Matthew adds various particulars peculiar to himself, and quite falling in with the Spirit's desire by him; as we find also in Luke his own characteristics. Thus, in Luke, there is a remarkable display of grace and love to the despised poor in Israel; then, further, that love enlarging its sphere, and going out to the highways and hedges to bring in the poor that were there the poor in the city the poor everywhere. I need not say how thoroughly in character all this is. Here, in Matthew, we have not only God's grace, but a kind of history, very strikingly embracing the destruction of Jerusalem, on which Luke is here silent. "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king which made a marriage for his son." It is not merely a man making a feast for those that have nothing that we have fully in Luke; but here rather the king bent upon the glorification of his son. "He sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again he sent forth other servants, saving, Tell them which were bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage." There are two missions of the servants of the Lord here: one during His lifetime; the other after His death. On the second mission, not the first, it is said, "All things are ready." The message is, as ever, despised. "They made light of it, and went their ways." It was the second time when there was this most ample invitation which left no excuse for man, that they not only would not come, going one to his farm, and another to his merchandize, but "the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully and slew them," This was not the character of the reception given to the apostles during our Lord's lifetime, but exactly what transpired after His death. Thereupon, though in marvellous patience the blow was suspended for years, nevertheless judgment came at last. "When the king heard thereof, he was wroth, and sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city." This, of course, closes this part of the parable as predicting a providential dealing of God; but, besides being thus judicial after a sort to which we find nothing parallel in the gospel of Luke ( i.e., in what answers to it), as usual, the great change of dispensation is shown in Matthew much more distinctly than in Luke.

There it is rather the idea of grace that began with one sending out to those invited, and a very full exposure of their excuses in a moral point of view, followed by the second mission to the streets and lanes of the city, for the poor, maimed, halt, and blind; and finally, to the highways and hedges, compelling them to come in that the house might be filled. In Matthew it is very much more in a dispensational aspect; and hence the dealings with the Jews, both in mercy and judgment, are first given as a whole, according to that manner of his which furnishes a complete sketch at one stroke, so to speak. It is the more manifest here, because none can deny that the mission to the Gentiles was long before the destruction of Jerusalem. Next is appended the Gentile part to itself. "Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests." But there is a further thing brought out here, in a very distinctive manner. In Luke, we have no judgment pronounced and executed at the end upon him that came to the wedding without the due garment. In Matthew, as we saw the providential dealing with the Jews, so we find the closing scene very particularly described, when the king judges individually in the day that is coming. It is not an external or national stroke, though that too we have here a providential event in connection with Israel. Quite different, but consistent with that, we have a personal appraisal by God of the Gentile profession, of those now bearing Christ's name, but who have not really put on Christ. Such is the conclusion of the parable: nothing more appropriate at the same time than this picture, peculiar to Matthew, who depicts the vast chance at hand for the Gentiles, and God's dealing with them individually for their abuse of His grace. The parable illustrates the coming change of dispensation. Now this falls in with Matthew's design, rather than Luke's, with whom we shall find habitually it is a question of moral features, which the Lord may give opportunity of exhibiting at another time.

After this come the various classes of Jews the Pharisees first of all, and, strange consorts! the Herodians. Ordinarily they were, as men say, natural enemies. The Pharisees were the high ecclesiastical party; the Herodians, on the contrary, were the low worldly courtier party: those, the strong sticklers for tradition and righteousness according to the law; these, the panderers to the powers that then were for whatever could be got in the earth. Such allies now joined hypocritically against the Lord. The Lord meets them with that wisdom which always shines in His words and ways. They demand whether it be lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not. "Show me," says He, "the tribute money . . . . . And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Thus the Lord deals with the facts as they then came before Him. The piece of money they produced proved their subjection to the Gentiles. It was their sin which had put them there. They writhed under their masters; but still under alien masters they were; and it was because of their sin. The Lord confronts them not only with the undeniable witness of their subjection to the Romans, but also with a graver charge still, which they had entirely overlooked the claims of God, as well as of Caesar. "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's." The money you love proclaims that you are slaves to Caesar. Pay, then, to Caesar his dues. But forget not to "render to God the things that are God's." The fact was, they hated Caesar only less than they hated the true God. The Lord left them therefore under the reflections and confusion of their own guilty consciences.

Next, the Lord is assailed by another great party. "The same day came to him the Sadducees" those most opposed to the Pharisees in doctrine, as the Herodians were in politics. The Sadducees denied resurrection, and put a case which to their mind involved insuperable difficulties. To whom would belong in that state a woman who here had been married to seven brethren successively? The Lord does not cite the clearest Scripture about the resurrection; He does what in the circumstances is much better; He appeals to what they themselves professed most of all to revere. To the Sadducee there was no part of Scripture possessed of such authority as the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses. From Moses, then, He proved the resurrection; and this in the simplest possible way. Every one their own conscience must allow that God is the God, not of the dead, but of the living. Therefore, if God calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it is not an unmeaning thing. Referring long afterwards to their fathers who were passed away, He speaks of Himself as in relationship with them. Were they not, then, dead? But was all gone? Not so. But far more than that, He speaks as one who not merely had relations with them, but had made promises to them, which never yet were accomplished. Either, then, God must raise them from the dead, in order to make good His promises to the fathers; or He could not be careful to keep His promises. Was this last what their faith in God, or rather their want of faith, came to? To deny resurrection is, therefore, to deny the promises, and God's faithfulness, and in truth God Himself. The Lord, therefore, rebukes them on this acknowledged principle, that God was the God of the living, not of the dead. To make Him God of the dead would have been really to deny Him to be God at all: equally so to make His promises of no value or stability. God, therefore, must raise again the fathers in order to fulfil His promise to them; for they certainly never got the promises in this life. The folly of their thoughts too was manifest in this, that the difficulty presented was wholly unreal it only existed in their imagination. Marriage has nothing to do with the risen state: there they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. Thus, on their own negative ground of objection, they were altogether in error. Positively, as we have seen, they were just as wrong; for God must raise the dead to make good His own promises. There is nothing now in this world that worthily witnesses God, save only that which is known to faith; but if you speak of the display of God, and the manifestation of His power, you must wait until the resurrection. The Sadducees had not faith, and hence were in total error and blindness: "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God." Therefore it was that, refusing to believe, they were unable to understand. When the resurrection comes, it will be manifest to every eye. Accordingly this was the point of our Lord's answer; and the multitudes were astonished at His doctrine.

Though the Pharisees were not sorry to find the then ruling party, the Sadducees, put to silence, one of them, a lawyer, tempted the Lord in a question of near interest to them. "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" But He who came full of grace and truth never lowered the law, and at once gives its sum and substance in both its parts Godward and manward.

The time, however, was come for Jesus to put His question, drawn fromPsalms 110:1-19.110.7; Psalms 110:1-19.110.7. If Christ be confessedly David's Son, how does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, "Jehovah said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?" The whole truth of His position lies here. It was about to be realized; and the Lord can speak of the things that were not as though they were. Such was the language of David the king in words inspired of the Holy Ghost. What was the language, the thought of the people now, and by whom inspired? Alas! Pharisees, lawyers, Sadducees it was only a question of infidelity in varying forms; and the glory of David's Lord was even more momentous than the dead rising according to promise. Believe it or not, the Messiah was about to take His seat at the right hand of Jehovah. They were indeed, they are critical questions: If the Christ be David's Son, how is He David's Lord? If He be David's Lord, how is He David's Son? It is the turning point of unbelief at all times, now as then, the continual theme of the testimony of the Holy Ghost, the habitual stumbling-block of man, never so vain as when he would be wisest, and either essay to sound by his own wit the unfathomable mystery of Christ's person, or deny that there is in it any mystery whatever. It was the very point of Jewish unbelief It was the grand capital truth of all this gospel of Matthew, that He who was the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, was really Emmanuel, and Jehovah. It had been proved at His birth, proved throughout His ministry in Galilee, proved now at His last presentation in Jerusalem. "And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions." Such was their position in presence of Him who was so soon about to take His seat at the right hand of God; and there each remains to this day. Awful, unbelieving silence of Israel despising their own law, despising their own Messiah, David's Son and David's Lord, His glory their shame!

But if man was silent, it was the Lord's place not merely to question but to pronounce; and in Matthew 23:1-40.23.39 most solemnly does the Lord utter His sentence upon Israel. It was an address both to the multitude and to the disciples, with woes for Scribes and Pharisees. The Lord fully sanctioned that kind of mingled address for the time, providing, it would appear, not merely for the disciples, but for the remnant in a future day who will have this ambiguous place; believers in Him, on the one hand, yet withal filled, on the. other, with Jewish hopes and Jewish associations. This seems to me the reason why our Lord speaks in a manner so remarkably different from that which obtains ordinarily in Scripture. "The scribes," He says, "and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen of men." The principle fully applied then, as it will in the latter day; the Church scene coming in meanwhile as a parenthesis. The suitability of such instruction to this gospel of Matthew is also obvious, as indeed here only it is found. Then, again, our souls would shrink from the notion, that what our Lord taught could have merely a passing application. Not so; it has a permanent value for His followers; save only that the special privileges conferred on the Church, which is His body, modify the case, and, concurrently with this, the setting aside meanwhile of the Jewish people and state of things. But as these words applied literally then, so I conceive will it be at a future day. If this be so, it preserves the dignity of the Lord, as the great Prophet and Teacher, in its true place. In the last book of the New Testament we have a similar combination of features, when the Church will have disappeared from the earth; that is, the keeping the commandments of God and having the faith of Jesus. So here, the disciples of Jesus are exhorted to heed what was enjoined by those who sat in Moses' seat to follow what they taught, not what they did. So far as they brought out God's commandments, it was obligatory. But their practice was to be a beacon, not a guide. Their objects were to be seen of men, pride of place, honour in public and private, high-sounding titles, in open contradiction of Christ and that oft-repeated word of His "Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall bumble himself shall be exalted." Yet, of course, the disciples had the faith of Jesus.

Next the Lord* launches out woe after woe against the Scribes and Pharisees. They were hypocrites. They shut out the new light of God, while zealous beyond measure for their own thoughts; they undermined conscience by their casuistry, while insisting on the minutest alliteration in ceremonializing; they laboured after external cleanness, while full of rapine and intemperance; and if they could only seem righteously fair without, feared not within to be full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Finally, their monuments in honour of slain prophets and past worthies were rather a testimony to their own relationship, not to the righteous, but to those who murdered them. Their fathers killed the witnesses of God who, while living, condemned them; they, the sons, only built to their memory when there was no longer a present testimony to their conscience, and their sepulchral honours would cast a halo around themselves.

*The most ancient text, represented by the Vatican, Sinai, Beza's Cambridge, L. of Paris (C. being defective, as well as the Alexandrian), and the Rescript of Dublin, omits verse 14, which may have been foisted in from Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47. This leaves the complete series of seven woes.

Such is worldly religion and its heads: the great obstructions to divine knowledge, instead of living only to be its channels of communication; narrow, where they should have been large; cold and lukewarm for God, earnest only for self; daring sophists, where divine obligations lay deep, and punctilious pettifoggers in the smallest details, straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel; anxious only for the outside, reckless as to all that lay concealed underneath. The honour they paid those who had suffered in times past was the proof that they succeeded not them but their enemies, the true legitimate successors of those that slew the friends of God. The successors of those that of old suffered for God are those who suffer now; the heirs of their persecutors may build them sepulchres, erect statues, cast monumental brasses, pay them any conceivable honour. When there is no longer the testimony of God that pierces the obdurate heart, when they who render it are no longer there, the names of these departed saints or prophets become a means of gaining religious reputation for themselves. Present application of the truth is lacking, the sword of the Spirit is no longer in the hands of those who wielded it so well To honour those who have passed away is the cheapest means, on the contrary, for acquiring credit for the men of this generation. It is to swell the great capital of tradition out of those that once served God, but are now gone, whose testimony, is no longer a sting to the guilty. Thus it is evident, that as their honour begins in death, so it bears the sure stamp of death upon it. Did they plume themselves on the progress of the age? Did they think and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets? How little they knew their own hearts! Their trial was at hand. Their real character would soon appear, hypocrites though they were, and a serpent brood: how could they escape the judgment of hell?

"Wherefore, behold," says He, after thus exposing and denouncing them, "I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city." It is most eminently a Jewish character and circumstance of persecution; as the aim was the retributive one, "that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily, I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation." Yet, just as the blessed Lord, after pronouncing woes on Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, that had rejected His words and works, turned at once to the infinite resources of grace, and from the depth of His own glory brought in the secret of better things to the poor and needy; so it was that even at this time, just before He gave utterance to these woes (so solemn and fatal to the proud religious guides of Israel), He had, as we know from Luke 19:1-42.19.48, wept over the guilty city, out of which, as His servants, so their Lord could not perish. Here, again, how truly was His heart towards them! "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." It is not "I have," but your house is left unto you desolate; "for I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth [what bitterness of destitution theirs Messiah, Jehovah Himself, rejecting those who rejected Him!] till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

Thus we have had our Lord presenting Himself as Jehovah the King; we have had the various classes putting themselves forward to judge Him, but, in fact, judged themselves by Him, There remains another scene of great interest, linking itself on to His farewell to the nation just noticed. It is His last communication to the disciples in view of the future; and this Matthew gives in a very full and rich manner. It would be vain to attempt an exposition of this prophetic discourse within my assigned limits. I will, therefore, but skim its surface now, just enough to indicate its outlines, and specially its distinctive features. It is evident that the greater completeness here exhibited beyond what appears in any other gospel is according to special design. In the gospel given by the other apostle, John, there is not a word of it. Mark gives his report very particularly in connection with the testimony of God, as I hope to show when we come to that point. In Luke there is peculiar distinctness in noticing the Gentiles, and their times of supremacy during the long period of Israel's degradation. Again, it is only in Matthew that we find direct allusion to the question of the end of the age. The reason is evident. That consummation is the grand crisis for the Jew. Matthew, writing under the Holy Ghost's direction for Israel, in view both of the consequences of their past unfaithfulness and of that future crisis, furnishes alike the momentous question and the Lord's special answer to it. This, too, is the reason why Matthew opens out what we do not find in either Mark or Luke, at least in this connection. We have here very comprehensively the Christian part, as it appears to me ( i.e., what belongs to the disciples, viewed as professing Christ's name when Israel rejected Him). This suits Matthew's view of the prophecy; and the reason is plain. Matthew shows us not only the consequences of the rejection of the Messiah to Israel, but the change of dispensation, or what would follow on their fatal opposition to One who was their King, yea, not only Messiah, but Jehovah. The consequences were to be, could not but be, all-important; and the Spirit here records this portion of the Lord's prophecy most appropriately to His purpose by Matthew. Would not God turn the Jewish rejection of that glorious Person to some wondrous and suitable account? Accordingly this is what we find here. The order, though different from that which obtains elsewhere, is regulated by perfect wisdom. First of all, the Jews are taken up, or the disciples as representing them, where they then were. They had not got beyond their old thoughts of the temple, those buildings that had excited their admiration and awe. The Lord announces the judgment that was at hand. Indeed, it was involved in the words said before "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." It was their house. The Spirit was fled. It was no better than a dead body now. Why should it not be carried out speedily to burial? "See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." All would soon be over for the present. "And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" In answer the Lord sets before them a general history so general, indeed, that one might hardly gather at first whether He did not contemplate even here Christians as well as Jews. (vv. 4-14.) They are viewed really as a believing but Jewish remnant, which accounts for the breadth of the language. Then, from verse 15, come the details of Daniel's special last half week, whose prophecy is emphatically appealed to. The establishment of the abomination of desolation in the holy place would be the sign for the instant flight of godly ones, like the disciples, who will then be found in Jerusalem. For this is to be followed by great tribulation, exceeding any time of trouble since the beginning of the world up to that day. Nor will there be outward affliction only, but unparalleled deceits, false Christs and false prophets showing great signs and wonders. But the elect are here warned graciously of the Saviour, and far, far beyond any guards afforded in the prophecies of the Old Testament.

"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 heaven 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."Matthew 24:29; Matthew 24:29. The appearing of the Son of man is a grand point in Matthew, and indeed in all the gospels. The once rejected Christ will come in glory as the glorious Heir of all things. His advent in the clouds of heaven will be to take the throne, not of Israel only, but of all people, nations, and languages. Returning thus, to the horror and shame of His adversaries, in or out of the land, the first thing spoken of here is His mission of His angels to gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. There is no hint of resurrection or of rapture to heaven here. The elect of Israel are in question, and His own glory as Son of man, without a word of His being Head; nor of the Church His body. What we find here is a process of gathering the chosen, not merely of the Jews, but of all Isaiah, as I suppose, from the four winds of heaven. This interpretation derives support, then, if that be needed, from the parable that immediately follows (verses 32, 33). It is the fig tree once more, but used for a far different purpose. Be it curse in one connection, be it blessing in another, the fig tree typifies Israel.

Then comes, not what may be called the natural, but the scriptural, parable. As that alluded to the outside realm of nature, so this was taken from the Old Testament. The reference here is to the days of Noah, applied to illustrate the coming of the Son of man. So should the blow fall suddenly on all its objects. "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left, Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left." They must not imagine that it would be like an ordinary judgment in providence, which sweeps here, not there, and sweeps here indiscriminately. In such the guiltless suffer with the guilty, without any approach to an adequate personal distinction. But it will not be so in the days of the Son of man, when He returns to deal with mankind at the end of the age. To be without or within will be no protection. Of two men in the field; of two women grinding at the mill, the one shall be taken, and the other left. The discrimination is precise and perfect to the last degree. "Watch therefore," says the Lord, in conclusion of it all; "for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

This transition, in my judgment, leads from the part particularly devoted to the destinies of the Jewish people, and opens into that which concerns the Christian profession. The first of these general pictures of Christendom, which drop all reference to Jerusalem, the temple, the people, or their hope, is found in verses 45-51. Next follows the parable of the ten virgins; then, last of these, is that of the talents. Let me observe, however, that there is a clause in Matthew 25:13 which has a little falsified the application. But the truth is, as is well known, that men, in copying the Greek New Testament, added the words, "Wherein the Son of man cometh," to this verse, which is complete without them. The Spirit really wrote, "Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour." To those versed in the text as it stands in the best copies, this is a fact too familiar to demand many words said about it. No critic of weight considers that these words have any just claim to be in the text that is founded on ancient authority. Others may defend the clause who accept what is commonly received, and what can only be defended by modern or uncertain manuscripts. Surely those I now address are the last men who ought to contend for a mere traditional or vulgar basis in anything which pertains to God. If we accept the traditional text of the printers, we are on this ground; if, on the contrary, we reject human meddling as a principle, assuredly we ought not to accredit such clauses as this, which we have the strongest grounds to pronounce a mere interpolation, and not truly the word of God. But this being so, we may proceed to notice how strikingly beautiful is the effect of omitting these words.

First, then, in the Christian part, came the parable of the household servant. He who, faithful and wise, met the wishes of his Lord that set him over His household to give them meat in due season, being found so doing, when He comes, is made ruler over all His goods. The evil servant, on the contrary, who settled in his heart that his Lord was not coming, and so yielded to overbearing violence and evil commerce with the profane world, shall be surprised by judgment, and have his portion with the hypocrites in hopeless shame and sorrow.

It is an instructive sketch of Christendom; but there is more. "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept." Thus Christendom entirely breaks down. It is not only the foolish who go to sleep, but the wise. All fail to give a right expression to their waiting for the Bridegroom. "They all slumbered and slept." But God takes care, without telling us how, that there shall be an interruption of their slumber. Instead of remaining out to wait, they must have gone in somewhere to sleep. In short, the original position is deserted. Not only have they not discharged their duty of awaiting the return of the Bridegroom, but they are no longer in their true posture. When the hope revives, the position is recovered, not before. At midnight, when all were asleep, there was a cry, "The bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet him." This acts on the virgins, wise and foolish. So it is now. Who can deny that foolish people enough speak and write about the Lord's coming? An universal agitation of spirit goes on in all countries and all towns. Spite of opposition, the expectation spreads far and wide. It is in no way confined to the children of God. Those who are in quest of oil, going hither and thither, are disturbed by it as certainly as those who have oil in their vessels are cheered to go out once more while waiting for the, Bridegroom's return. But what a difference! The wise were prepared with oil beforehand; the rest proved their folly in doing without it. Let me particularly call your attention to this, The difference consisted not in expecting the Lord's coining or not, but in the possession or the lack of oil (i.e., the unction from the Holy One). All profess Christ; they are all virgins with their lamps. But the want of oil is fatal. He who has not the Spirit of Christ is none of His. Such are the foolish. They know not what has made the others wise unto salvation, whatever they may profess; and their restless search, after that which they have not, finally severs them even here from the company of those they started with as looking for the Lord.

The notion that they are Christians who lack intelligence in prophecy seems to me not false only, but utterly unworthy of a spiritual mind. Is the possession of Christ less precious than a correct chart of the future? I cannot conceive a Christian without oil in his vessel. It is clearly to have the Holy Ghost, whom every saint that submits to the righteousness of God in Christ has dwelling within him. As John teaches us, the least members of God's family are said to have that unction not the fathers and young men but expressly the babes. Of course, if the youngest in Christ are so privileged, the young men and fathers do not want. Therefore I do assert, with the fullest conviction of its truth, that, as the oil in the parable sets forth, not prophetic intelligence, but the gift of God's Spirit, so every Christian, and no other, has the Holy Ghost dwelling in him. These, then, are the wise virgins who make ready for the Bridegroom, and go in with Him to the marriage at His coming. As that hour draws near, the others, on the contrary, are more and more agitated. Not resting on Christ for their souls by faith, they have not the Spirit, and seek the inestimable gift among those who sell it, asking who will show them any good of whom they may buy this priceless oil. The Lord meanwhile comes, they that were ready go in with Him to the wedding, and the door was shut; the rest of the virgins are excluded. The Lord knew them not.

Let me say in passing, that these virgins are distinguished from those who will be called in the end of the age by broad and deep differences. There is no ground to believe that the sufferers in that crisis will ever become heavy with sleep, as saints have done during the long delay of Christendom. That brief season of unprecedented trial and danger does not admit of it. Next, as little ground is there in Scripture to predicate of these latter-day sufferers the possession of the Holy Ghost, which is the peculiar privilege of the believer since the rejected Christ took His place as Head in heaven. The Holy Ghost is to be poured out on all flesh for the millennial day, no doubt; but no prophecy declares that the remnant will be so characterized till they see Jesus. And, again, there is the third point of distinction, that these sufferers are nowhere set forth as going out to meet the Bridegroom. They may flee away because of the abomination that makes desolate, but this is a contrast rather than a similar feature.

The third of these parables presents another phase again. During the absence of the Lord, before He appears to take the kingdom of the world, He gives gifts to men different gifts, and in different measures. This pre-eminently belongs to Christianity and its active testimony in peculiar variety. I am not aware of anything exactly answering to it in its full character in the latter day (which will be distinguished by a brief energetic witness of the kingdom). These gifts ofMatthew 25:1-40.25.46; Matthew 25:1-40.25.46 seem to me the thorough expression of the activity of grace, that goes out and labours for a rejected and absent Lord on high. However, I may not dwell upon minuter points, which would, of course, frustrate the desire to give a comprehensive sketch in a short compass.

The latter scene of the chapter is, to a simple mind, evident enough. "All the nations" or Gentiles are in question: there can be no mistake as to this. The Jew has already come before us, and at the beginning of the Lord's discourse, because the disciples were then Jews. Next, as disciples emerged from Judaism into Christianity, we have in this very distinctly the reason why the Christian parenthesis comes second in order. Then, in the third place, we find "all the nations" who are formally designated as such, and distinguished in the clearest manner from the two others, both in terms and in the things said of them. They come up and are visibly dealt with as Gentiles at the close, when the Son of man reigns as king over the earth. The question which comes before His throne, and decides their eternal lot, does not consist of the secrets of the heart then laid bare, nor their general life, but of their behaviour to His messengers. How had they treated certain persons that the King calls His brethren? It is an appraisal then, founded on their relation to a brief testimony rendered at the close of the present dispensation (I doubt not, by Jewish brethren of the King, when all the world wonders after the beast, and in general men go back to idols, and fall into Antichrist's hands); a testimony suited to the crisis, after the Christian body has been taken to heaven, and the question of the earth is raised once more. Thus these nations or Gentiles are dealt with according to their behaviour to the messengers of the King, just before and up to the time that the King summons them before the throne of His glory. To own His despised heralds when the time of strong delusion comes, will demand the quickening work of the Spirit; which, indeed, is needful for receiving any and every testimony of God. It is not a question of any general issue that would apply to a course of ages, as to the present preaching of God's grace, or to the ordinary current of men's lives. Nothing of the sort appears to be the ground of the Lord's action with either the sheep or the goats.

Matthew 26:1-40.26.75. Formal teaching is over now, whether practical or prophetic. The scene above all scenes draws near, on which, however blessed, I cannot say much at this time. The Lord Jesus has been presented to the people, has preached, has wrought miracles, has instructed disciples, has met all the various classes of His adversaries, has launched into the future up to the end of the age. Now He prepares to suffer, to suffer in absolute surrender of Himself to the Father. Accordingly, in this scene it is no longer man judging Him in words, but God judging Him in His person on the cross. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. So it is here. He maintains, too, every affection in its fulness. Here, aside from the crowd, the Lord for a season takes whatever of rest might be vouchsafed to His spirit. The active work was done. The cross remained a few brief hours, but of eternal value and unfathomable import, with which indeed nothing can compare.

At the house of Bethany Jesus is now found. It is one of the few scenes introduced by the Spirit of God into all the gospels save Luke, in contrast with, yet in preparation for, the cross. Was the Spirit of God then acting mightily in the heart of one who loved the Saviour? At this very time Satan was pushing on the heart of man to dare the worst against Jesus. Around these were the parties. What a moment for heaven, and earth, and hell! How much, how little was man seen! for if one feature be prominent in His foes more than another, it is this, that man is powerless, even when Jesus was the victim, exposed to every hostile breath as it might appear. Yet does He accomplish everything, when He was but a sufferer; they nothing, when free to do all (for it was their hour, and the power of darkness) nothing but their iniquity; but even in their iniquity doing the will of God, spite of themselves, and contrary to their own plans. They did their will in point of guilt, but it was never accomplished as they desired. First of all, as we are told, their great anxiety was, that the deed on which their heart was set, the death of Jesus, should not be at the passover. But their resolution was vain. From the beginning God had decided that then, and at no other time, it should be. They assembled, they consulted, "that they might take Jesus by subtilty and kill him." The upshot of their deliberations was only "Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people." Little did they foresee the treachery of a disciple, or the public sentence of a Roman governor. Again, there was no uproar among the people, contrary to their fears. Yet did Jesus die on that day according to God's word.

But let us turn aside to the company of our Lord for a little while at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper. There was poured out the worship of a heart that loved Him, if ever there was one. She waited not for the promise of the Father; but He who was soon after given to overflowing, even then wrought in the instincts of her new nature. "There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he sat at meat." This, John lets us know, she had kept; it was no new thing got up for the occasion; it was her best, and spent on Jesus. How little it was in her eyes, how precious in His, spent on one whom she loved, for whom she felt the impending danger; for love is quick to feel, and feels more truly than man's most sharpened prudence. So it was, then, that this woman pours her ointment on His head. John mentions His feet. Certainly it was poured upon both. But as Matthew has the King before him, and it was usual to pour on, not the feet of a king, but his head, he naturally records that part of the action which was suitable to the Messiah. John, on the contrary, whose point is that Jesus was infinitely more than a king, while lowly enough in love for anything John most appropriately tells us that Mary poured it on His feet. It is interesting, too, to observe, that love, and a profound sense of the glory of Jesus, led her to do that which a sinner's heart, thoroughly broken down in the presence of His grace, prompted her to do. For Luke mentions another person. In this case it was "a woman in the city, who was a sinner," a totally different person, at another and earlier time, and in the house of another Simon, a Pharisee. She too anointed the feet of Jesus with an alabaster box of ointment; but she stood at His feet behind, weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet. There are thus many added circumstances in harmony with the case. All I would point out now is, the kindred feeling to which is led a poor sinner that tasted His grace in presence of her proved unworthiness, and a loving worshipper, filled with the glory of His person, and sensitive to the malice of His foes. However that may be, the Lord vindicates her in the face of murmuring disaffected disciples. It is a solemn lesson; for it shows how one corrupt mind may defile others, incomparably better than its own. The whole college of the apostles, the twelve, were tainted for the moment by the poison insinuated by one. What hearts are ours at such a season, in the face of such love! But so it was, alas! is. One evil eye may too soon communicate its foul impression, and thereby many be defiled. It was Judas at bottom; but there was also that in the rest which made them susceptible of similar selfishness at the expense of Jesus, although there was not in them the same allowance of diabolical influence which had suggested thoughts to Judas. The example is surely not without serious admonition to ourselves. How often care for doctrine cloaks Satan, as here care for the poor! Morally, too, this connects itself with Christ's sufferings that should follow. The devotedness of the woman is used of Satan to push Judas into his last wickedness, so much the more determined by the outflow of what his heart could not in the smallest degree appreciate. Thence he goes to sell Jesus. If he could not manage to get the box of precious ointment, or its worth, he would, while he could, secure his little profit on the sale of Jesus to His enemies. "What will ye give me," says he to the chief priests, "and I will deliver him unto you?" Accordingly the covenant takes place a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell. "They covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver" man's, Israel's, worthy price for Jesus!

But now, as the woman had her token for Jesus, and in it her own memorial, wherever, whenever the gospel of the kingdom is preached in the whole world, so Jesus next institutes the standing, undying token of His dying love. He founds the new feast, His own supper for His disciples. At the paschal feast He takes up the bread and the wine, and consecrates them to be on earth the continual remembrance of Himself in the midst of His own. In the language of its institution there are some distinctive features which may claim a notice when we have the opportunity of looking at the other gospels. From this table our Lord goes to Gethsemane, and His agony there. Whatever there was of sorrow, whatever there was of pain, whatever there was of suffering, our Lord never bowed to any suffering from men without, before He bore it on His heart alone with His Father. He went through it in spirit before He went through it in fact. And this, I believe, is the main point here. I say not all that we have; for here He met the terrors of death and what a death! pressed on Him by the prince of this world, who nevertheless found nothing in Him. Thus at the actual hour it was God glorified in Him, the Son of man, even as, when raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, He forthwith declares to His brethren the name of His Father and their Father, of His God and their God, both nature and relationship. Here His cry still is simply to His Father, as in the cross it was, My God, though not this only. However profoundly instructive all this maybe, our Lord in the garden calls upon the disciples to watch and pray; but this is precisely what they find hardest. They slept, and prayed not. What a contrast, too, with Jesus afterwards, when the trial came! And yet for them it was but the merest reflection of that which He passed through. For the world, death is either borne with the obduracy that dares all because it believes nothing, or it is a pang as the end of present enjoyment, the sombre portal of they know not what beyond. To the believer, to the Jewish disciple, before redemption, death was even worse in a sense; for there was a juster perception of God, and of man's state morally. Now all is changed through His death, which the disciples so little estimated, the bare shadow of which, however, was enough to overwhelm them all, and silence every confession of their faith. For him who most of all presumed on the strength of his love, it was enough to prove how little he yet knew of the reality of death, spite of his too ready boasts. And yet what would death have been in his case compared with that of Jesus! But even that was incomparably too much for the strength of Peter; all was proved powerless, save the One who showed, even when He was weakest, that He was alone the Giver of all strength, the Manifester of all grace, even when He was crushed under such judgment as man never knew before, nor can know again.

Matthew 27:1-40.27.66. We next see our Lord, not with the disciples, failing, false, or traitorous, but His hour come, in the power of the hostile world, priests, governors, soldiers, and people. What was attempted by man completely broke down. They had their witnesses, but the witnesses agreed not. Failure everywhere is found, even in wickedness failure not in men's will, but in its accomplishment. God alone governs. So now Jesus was condemned, not for their testimony, but for His own. How wondrous, that even to put Him to death they needed the witness of Jesus; they could not condemn Him to die but for His good confession. For His testimony to the truth they consummated their worst deed; and this doubly, before the high priest as well as before the governor. Warned of his wife (for the Lord took care that there should be providential testimony), as well as too keen-sighted to overlook the malice of the Jews and the innocence of the accused, Pontius Pilate acknowledges his prisoner to be guiltless, yet allowed himself to be forced to act contrary to his own conscience, and according to their wishes whom he wholly despised. Once more, ere Jesus is led out to be crucified, the Jews showed what they were morally; for when the coarse-minded heathen put before them the alternative of releasing Jesus or Barabbas, their instant preference (not without priestly instigation) was a wretch, a robber, a murderer. Such was the feeling of the Jews, God's people, toward their King, because He was the Son of God, Jehovah, and not a mere man. With bitter irony, but not without God, wrote Pilate the accusation, "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews." But this was not the only testimony which God gave. For from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And then when Jesus, crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost, that ensued which particularly would strike the heart of the Jew. The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. What could be conceived more solemn to Israel? His death was the death blow to the Jewish system, struck by one who was unmistakably the Maker of heaven and earth. But it was not the dissolution of that system only, but of the power of death itself; for the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, the witness of the value of His death, though not declared till after His resurrection. The death of Jesus, I hesitate not to say, is the sole groundwork of righteous deliverance from sin. In the resurrection is seen the mighty power of God; but what is power for a sinner, with God before his soul, compared with righteousness? What with grace? And this is precisely what we have here. Hence, it is the death of Jesus alone that is the true centre and pivot of all God's counsels and ways, whether in righteousness or in grace. The resurrection, no doubt, is the power that manifests and proclaims all; but what it proclaims is the power of His death, because that alone has vindicated God morally. The death of Jesus alone has proved that nothing could overcome His love rejection, death itself, so far from this, being only the occasion of displaying love to the uttermost. Therefore it is that, of all things even in Jesus, there is none that affords such a common and perfect resting-place for God and man as the death of Jesus. When it is a question of power, liberty, life, no doubt we must turn to the resurrection; and hence it is, that in the Acts of the apostles this necessarily comes out most prominently, because the matter in hand was to afford proof, on the one hand, of manifested but despised grace; on the other hand, of God's reversing man's attainder of Jesus by raising Him from the dead and exalting Him to His own right hand on high. The death of Jesus would be no demonstration of this sort. On the contrary, His death was what man appeared to triumph in. They had got rid of Jesus thus, but the resurrection proved how vain and short-lived it was, and that God was against them. The object was to make evident that man was wholly opposed to God, and that God even now manifested His sentence on it. The raising up Him whom man slew renders this unquestionable. I admit that in the resurrection of Christ God is for us, for the believer. But the sinner and the believer must not be confounded together, for there is an immense difference between the two things. Whatever the witness of perfect love in the gift and death of Jesus, for the sinner there is not, there cannot be, anything whatever in the resurrection of Jesus save condemnation. I press this the more strongly, because the recovery of the precious truth of Christ's resurrection exposes some, by a kind of reaction, to weaken the value which His death has in God's mind, and ought to have in our faith. Let those, then, who prize the resurrection, see to it that they be exceedingly jealous for the due place of the cross.

The two things we find remarkably guarded here. It was not the resurrection, but the death of Jesus, that rent the veil of the temple; it was not His resurrection that opened the graves, but His cross, though the saints rose not till after He rose. It is just so with us practically. In point of fact, we never do know the full worth of the death of Christ, until we look upon it from the power and results of the resurrection. But what we contemplate from the side of resurrection is not itself, but the death of Jesus. Hence it is that in the Church's assembling, and most properly, on the Lord's day, we do in the breaking of bread show forth, not the resurrection, but the death of the Lord. At the same time, we show forth His death not on the day of death, but upon that of resurrection. Do I forget that it is the day of resurrection? Then I little understand my liberty and joy. If, on the contrary, the resurrection day brings no more before me than the resurrection, it is too plain that the death of Christ has lost its infinite grace for my soul.

The Egyptians would have liked to cross the Red Sea, but they had no care for the doors sprinkled with the blood of the lamb. They essayed to pass through the watery walls, desiring thus to follow Israel to the other side. But we do not read that they ever sought the shelter of the Paschal Lamb's blood. No doubt, this is an extreme case, and the judgment of the world of nature; but we may learn even from an enemy not to value resurrection less, but to value the death and blood-shedding of our precious Saviour more. There is really nothing towards God and man like the death of Christ.

Then, in contrast with the poor but devoted women of Galilee that surrounded the cross, we behold the fears, the just fears, of those who had accomplished the death of Jesus. These guilty men go full of anxiety to Pilate. They feared "that deceiver," and so had their watch, and stone, and seal in vain! The Lord that sat in the heavens had them in derision. Jesus had prepared His own (and His enemies knew it) for His rising on the third day. Women came there the evening before to look at the place where the Lord lay buried. (Matthew 28:1-40.28.20) That morning, very early, when there were none there but the guards, the angel of the Lord. descends. We are not told that our Lord rose at that time; still less is it said that the angel of the Lord rolled away the stone for Him. He that passed through the doors, closed for fear of the Jews, could just as easily pass through the sealed stone, despite all the soldiers of the empire. We know that there the angel sat after rolling away the great stone which had closed the sepulchre, where our Lord, despised and rejected of men, nevertheless accomplished Isaiah's prophecy. In making His grave with the rich. The Lord then had this further witness, that the very keepers, hardened and bold as such usually are, trembled, and became as dead men, while the angel bids the women not to fear; for this Jesus which was crucified "is not here: He is risen. Come, and see the place where the Lord lay, and go and tell the disciples, Behold, He goeth before you into Galilee." This is a point of importance for completing the view of His rejection, or its consequences in resurrection, and so Matthew takes particular care of it, though the same fact may be recorded also by Mark for his purpose.

But Matthew does not speak of the various appearances of the Lord in Jerusalem after the resurrection. What he does dwell upon particularly, and of course with his special reasons for it, is, that the Lord, after His resurrection, adheres to the place where the state of the Jews led Him to be habitually, and shed His light around according to prophecy; for the Lord resumed relations once more in Galilee with the remnant represented by" the disciples after He rose from the dead. It was in the place of Jewish contempt; it was where the benighted poor of the flock were, the neglected of the proud scribes and rulers of Jerusalem. There the risen Lord was pleased to go before His servants and rejoin them.

But as the Galilean women went with this word from the angel, the Lord Himself met them. "And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him." It is remarkable that in our gospel this was permitted. To Mary Magdalene, who in her desire to pay her wonted obeisance probably was attempting something similar, He altogether declines it; but this is mentioned in the gospel of John. How is it, then, that the two apostolic accounts show us the homage of the women received, and of Mary Magdalene refused, on the same day, and perhaps at the same hour? Clearly the action is significant in both. The reason, I apprehend, was this, Matthew sets before us that while He was the rejected Messiah, though now risen, He not only reverted to His relations in the despised part of the land with His disciples, but gives, in this accepted worship of the daughters of Galilee, the pledge of His special association with the Jews in the latter day; for it is precisely thus that they will look for the Lord. That is, a Jew, as such, counts upon the bodily presence of the Lord. The point in John's record is the very reverse; for it is the taking one, who was a sample of believing Jews, out of Jewish relations into association with Himself just about to ascend to heaven. In Matthew He is touched. They held Him by the feet without remonstrance, and thus worshipped Him in bodily presence. In John He says, "Touch me not;" and the reason is, "for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." Worship henceforth was to be offered to Him above, invisible, but known there by faith. To the women in Matthew it was here that He was presented for their worship; to the woman in John it was there only He was to be known now. It was not a question of bodily presence, but of the Lord ascended to heaven and there announcing the new relationships for us with His Father and God. Thus, in the one case, it is the sanction of Jewish hopes of His presence here, below for the homage of Israel; in the other gospel, it is His personal absence and ascension, leading souls to a higher and suited association with Himself, as well as with God, taking even those who were Jews out of their old condition to know the Lord no more after the flesh.

Most consistently, therefore, in this gospel, we have no ascension scene at all. If we had only the gospel of Matthew, we should possess no record of this wonderful fact: so striking is the omission, that a well-known commentary, Mr. Alford's first edition, broached the rash and irreverent hypothesis founded upon it, that our Matthew is an incomplete Greek version of the Hebrew original, because there was no such record; for it was impossible, in the opinion of that writer, that an apostle could have omitted a description of that event. The fact is, if you add the ascension to Matthew, you would overload and mar his gospel. The beautiful end of Matthew is, that (while chief priests and elders essay to cover their wickedness by falsehood and bribery, and their lie "is commonly reported among the Jews until this day,") our Lord meets His disciples on a mountain in Galilee, according to His appointment, and sends them to disciple all the Gentiles. How great is the change of dispensation is manifest from His former commission to the same men in Matthew 10:1-40.10.42. Now they were to baptize them unto the name of the Father, etc. It was not a question of the Almighty God of the fathers, or the Jehovah God of Israel. The name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is characteristic of Christianity. Permit me to say, that this is the true formula of Christian baptism, and that the omission of this form of sound words appears to me quite as fatal to the validity of baptism as any change that can be pointed out in other respects. Instead of being a Jewish thing, this is what supplanted it. Instead of a relic of older dispensations to be modified or rather set aside now, on the contrary, it is the full revelation of the name of God as now made known, not before. This only came out after the death and resurrection of Christ. There is no longer the mere Jewish enclosure He had entered during the days of His flesh, but the change of dispensation was now dawning: so consistently does the Spirit of God hold to His design from the first to the very end.

Accordingly He closes with these words, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [age]." How the form of the truth would have been weakened, if not destroyed, had we then heard of His going up to heaven! It is evident that the moral force of it is infinitely more preserved as it is. He is charging His disciples, sending them on their world-wide mission with these words, "Lo, I am with you always, all the days," etc. The force is immensely increased, and for this very reason that we hear and see no more. He promised His presence with them to the end of the age; and thereon the curtain drops. He is thus heard, if not seen, for ever with His own on earth, as they go forth upon that errand so precious, but perilous. May we gather real profit from all He has given us.

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Bibliographical Information
Kelly, William. "Commentary on Matthew 25:1". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wkc/matthew-25.html. 1860-1890.