Matthew Twenty Five

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Matthew 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.

kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven (see note on Matthew 3:2) is here seen in its outward aspect of Christian profession. It contains both members who have prepared for the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom and are waiting anxiously for Him and also members who care more about their own comfort and personal interests than about the Bridegroom, and so have not bothered to prepare for His coming. The message is similar to that of the faithful and evil servants in the preceding parable. Like the unfaithful servant, the foolish virgins were unconcerned about the Lord because they thought His coming (or their death) would be delayed. The evil servant, however, was a wicked hypocrite; the foolish virgins were indifferent procrastinators. In spite of their professed commitment to the kingdom, both of these types of “Christians” are not really committed to the Lord. Thus they are still unsaved sinners. The moral in both parables is to be watchful and ready, living in light of the imminent coming of the Lord. The same watchfulness would also serve to prepare them for death, if that should come first. “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). Note also Hebrews 9:28; xTerm 2:28; etc.

Matthew 25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

Matthew 25:3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

Matthew 25:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.

Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

Matthew 25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Matthew 25:7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

Matthew 25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

Matthew 25:9 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.

Matthew 25:10 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.

Matthew 25:11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.

Matthew 25:12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Watch therefore. The oft-repeated command to watch for the coming of the Lord not only rebukes those who attempt to set the date of His return, but also those who argue that He cannot come until certain other predictions have been fulfilled (the manifestation of Antichrist, a great revival, a great apostasy, the revival of the Roman empire, or some other such event). It would be pointless to be watching for His coming if we must watch for other signs first. His return for those who have believed on Him is always imminent (Matthew 24:42, 44; Mark 13:33-37; Hebrews 9:28; Titus 2:12-13; xTerm 2:28; etc.). See also note on 1 Thessalonians 5:9; note on 2 Thessalonians 2:3; and note on Revelation 3:10.

Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Matthew 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

talents. A talent was about six thousand denarii. See note on Matthew 20:10.

ability. The “Parable of the Talents,” as it has come to be known, deals not only with true and false Christian believers but also with future rewards in the heavenly kingdom. The Lord evaluates service and gives rewards in relation to the believer's motivation and opportunity, expecting more from those with greater ability and opportunity. He rightly expects something, however, from every true believer, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10). A life with no evidence of good works is not a life of authentic faith in Christ, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).

Matthew 25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

Matthew 25:17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

Matthew 25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.

Matthew 25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

Matthew 25:20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

Matthew 25:21 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.

Matthew 25:22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

Matthew 25:23 His lord said unto him, Well done, 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.

good and faithful servant. Note that Matthew 25:21 and Matthew 25:23 are identical. The two servants receive the same reward, even though one had earned five talents, the other only two. The principle is that rewards are based on quality, not quantity, of work.

Matthew 25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

I knew thee. The slothful servant shows by this statement that he did not really know the Lord at all, despite his profession. His unfruitfulness was proof that he was not a true servant at all, and thus deserved to be cast out by the Lord (Matthew 25:30).

Matthew 25:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

Matthew 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:

Matthew 25:27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

Matthew 25:28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

Matthew 25:29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

Matthew 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:31 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:

Matthew 25:32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

before him. The description of this judgment does not correlate at all with that of the judgment seat of Christ, where only believers are present to be judged for rewards (1 Corinthians 3:12-15); neither can it be the great white throne judgment, where only the lost are judged and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). At this judgment appear both “sheep” and “goats,” and the criterion by which they are examined is their treatment of a group called “my brethren” (Matthew 25:40). No mention at all is made of a resurrection, the implication being that only those living at this time are being judged. The context has been the second coming (this is the terminating section of Christ's Olivet discourse) and the great tribulation that precedes its final phase. Although multitudes will have been slain during this period—believers by the Antichrist and unbelievers by the great plagues and by Christ at Armageddon—some will survive, and these must be the ones appearing before the Lord for judgment.

all nations. The word “nations” is also the word for “Gentiles” and can be rendered either way, depending on context. It will be Gentiles who are judged because the Jews finally will all have recognized and accepted Christ as Savior when they see Him at His second coming (Zechariah 12:10-13:1; Romans 11:26). The nations (the Gentiles) will obviously be judged individually, not as national units.

Matthew 25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

inherit the kingdom. The “kingdom” here can only be the earthly kingdom centered in Jerusalem, with Messiah as King over all the earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6). Christ will rule with righteousness and an iron rod (Psalm 2:6-9; Revelation 19:15). Although the chief nation will be Israel, there will be at least remnant populations left of the Gentile nations also; some of each of these probably are among the “sheep,” and such will all share in Christ's millennial kingdom.

Matthew 25:35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

Matthew 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Matthew 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

Matthew 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

Matthew 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

my brethren. Christ's criterion for recognizing “sheep” (the saved—Matthew 25:32) among the living Gentiles at His throne of glory is their treatment of “my brethren” during the terrible tribulation period. The brethren would certainly include the Jews, who were being sought for extermination during this period, the most severe time of persecution ever experienced by the chosen people (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:15-21; Revelation 12:5-6, 13-16). However, Jesus also indicated that His brethren encompassed all who “do the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 12:50). The Gentiles who are saved during the tribulation period also will have been marked for execution by the Antichrist. Thus all who try to befriend and care for these refugees during these seven frightful years will be recognized as “sheep” and allowed to continue their natural physical lives into the millennial kingdom. Those who had not done this, turning the refugees away, and perhaps even reporting them to the authorities, will be sent “away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). The “sheep” Gentiles would, by their actions, also have been branded as traitors by the authorities and sought for execution. Even though it is not specifically stated, it is implied that these “sheep” Gentiles are at least willing to believe on Christ themselves and have not received the mark of the beast.

Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Depart from me. The “goats” will have demonstrated their implacable enmity against God by their attitude toward His suffering “brethren” (Matthew 25:40). They probably will have received “the mark of the beast” and so are irretrievably lost (Revelation 14:9-11).

everlasting fire. Those who are offended by the idea of eternal hell-fire as the abode of the lost must at least reckon with the fact that it was Jesus Christ Himself who set forth this doctrine most emphatically of all (see also Matthew 5:29-30; 10:28; 13:41-42, 50; 18:8-9; 23:33; etc.). They should also recall that Christ so loved them that He Himself suffered the worst pangs of hell when He died for them on the cross, and they have thus far spurned His infinite love.

devil. The everlasting fires of hell were actually prepared for the devil, so that those who knowingly or carelessly choose Satan instead of Christ (there is no other choice!) will exist forever with Satan in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10-15). Since their domain is also called the “outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13), it may well be that the “lake of fire” is a burning star far out in the blackness of the vast universe created by God, with this particular portion of it prepared for Satan and the rebellious angels.

Matthew 25:42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

Matthew 25:43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Matthew 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

Matthew 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

righteous. Since no one is “righteous” except those made righteous through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), and since only these have eternal life (Romans 6:23), we must conclude that these “sheep” either have been—or perhaps, by God's election and foreknowledge, will be—saved through faith in Christ. That faith has been evidenced by their response to the urgent needs of Christ's “brethren” during the tribulation period, a response surely endangering their own lives also.