Matthew 25:1-46 - Outline of Matthew (Book Notes menu page)
The King warns us to be watching for His Return...
25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins,
which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
25:2 And five of them were wise, and five [were] foolish.
25:3 They that [were] foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
25:4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
25:5 While the bridegroom tarried,
they all slumbered and slept.
{cp. Heb 10:36-38; Eph 5:14; 1The 5:6,7}
25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made,
Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
{cp. Mat 24:44}
25:7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise,
Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
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.
{cp. Isa 55:1-7; Rev 3:17,18}
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.
25:11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
25:12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
25:13 Watch therefore,
for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins -
  1. Then... (v.1) - This parable continues Jesus' instruction
    concerning the time of His physical return to earth (eg., Mat 24:42-51).
  2. ...the kingdom of heaven...- ie., the realm of both true and false profession
    (as described in the parables in ch.13), will be brought to its conclusion at the return of Christ to establish His Kingdom of righteousness and truth.
    At the time just prior to His return, the kingdom of heaven will be like...
  3. ten virgins...- These represent, not the true Church, but rather Israel and other professed believers, during the Tribulation.
    • v.1 is translated ''... to meet the bridegroom and the bride,'' in the Syriac and Vulgate (Latin) versions.
    • in Luk 12:35,36, the lamps are kept burning while waiting for the bridegroom to return from the wedding.
    During the Tribulation period, the Bride (the Church, having been caught away in the Rapture) is in heaven with Christ (1The 4:16-18). Meanwhile, unbelieving Israel remains on earth, waiting for their King to appear and deliver them. During the Tribulation, many Jews and Gentiles will come to faith. However, this group of believers is distinct from the Church, the Bride of Christ. When Christ returns, His wife comes with Him. The marriage has already taken place in heaven. But the marriage supper will take place on the earth (Rev 19:7-9). At that celebration, the 'wise virgins' will be 'the companions' of the bride (Psa 45:14,15).
    [Also see the Book Notes study for the Psalms of Messiah on Psalm 45.]
  4. virgins - The word suggests separation, chastity and purity.
    These religious people have not been carried away with the deceptions which will characterize the period (eg., Mat 24:24). They will consider themselves loyal to their Judeo-Christian religious traditions.
  5. while the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept...-
    Church Age believers are warned against dullness and inattentiveness to God's Word and purposes. (See Rom 13:11; Eph 5:14; 1The 5:6-8; 1Pet 5:8)
       While true believers must be admonished to stay alert, mere professors are asleep in spiritual deadness.
       Because of their spiritual insensitivity, professing (but unsaved) believers who are neither looking to, nor for, Christ, will not be taken in the Rapture (Heb 9:28). However, the events of the Tribulation period will cause many professing believers to wake up and 'trim their lamps' (in v.7, 'trimmed' is GK=kosmeo, to arrange, to put in order). They will re-arrange their religious lives, in anticipation of Christ's return.
  6. no oil - Oil, in Scripture, is often symbolic of the Holy Spirit (eg., 1Sam 16:13; Zech 4:1-6).
    Without the indwelling Holy Spirit, a 'professed' believer has no spiritual life (Rom 8:9).
  7. the wise virgins - are the believing Jewish remnant, and believing gentiles,
    who, having come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation, are born-again of God's Spirit (Joh 1:11-13; 3:5,6).
  8. the foolish virgins - are religious people, who give mental assent to biblical doctrine,
    but who are satisfied with their self-righteousness, and therefore, have not personally repented of their sinfulness and placed their full trust in the Savior who paid the price of salvation in His own blood. Having a knowledge of biblical prophecy, they are anticipating Christ's return for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Yet, being clothed in their self-righteous, they are not prepared for that event (cp. Mat 22:11-14; Rom 10:1-4).
  9. 'I know you not.'- cp. Mat 7:21-23; Luk 13:25-29; Heb 3:18,19; 9:28; Rev 22:11
The reality of every individual's faith in Christ will be revealed at His coming.
The Parable of the Eight Talents (v.14-30) -
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.
25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one;
to every man according to his several
{GK=idios, unique} ability;
and straightway took his journey.
25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same,
and made [them] other five talents.
25:17 And likewise he that [had received] two, he also gained other two.
25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
25:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth:
lo, [there] thou hast [that is] thine.
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:
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.
25:28 Take therefore the talent from him,
and give [it] unto him which hath ten talents.
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.
25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness:
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Parable of the Eight Talents - compared to related parables...
Because this parable is very closely connected to the preceding parable, it is evident that both apply to the same time period. The relationship is so close, that it is difficult to make a division between v.13,14. The KJV translators made an artificial division by inserting the italicized [bracketed] words in v.14...
'For [the kingdom of heaven is] as a man travelling into a far country...'-
Without the inserted words, v.13,14 merge, as follows...
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
14. For... as a man travelling into a far country, [he] called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods...
This parable is also very similar to The Parable of Ten Talents (in Luk 19:11-27).
They are differentiated by...
  • The time spoken...
    • The 10 Talents - just prior to Jesus' 'Triumphal Entry' into Jerusalem, to present Himself as the King (Luk 19:28-f).
    • The 8 Talents - In the context of Matthew ch.24-25, which focuses on the return of the King to establish His Kingdom.
  • The enemies mentioned...
    • The 10 Talents - As the King departed, to receive His Kingdom, his citizens hated Him, and refused His authority. (This corresponds to Israel's rejection of the King who presented Himself by riding a donkey into Jerusalem.) Upon His return, His enemies would be destroyed (Luk 19:12,14,27).
    • The 8 Talents - There is no mention of rebellious citizens.
  • The talents received... the talents presented to the lord at his return -
    • In Luke, ten pounds are distributed to ten servants (each receiving 1 pound).
      The differing return on the investment is mentioned for each of three servants (+10, +5, and +0 pounds respectively).
    • In Matthew, the resources are distributed to each of three servants according to their individual abilities (5, 2, and 1 pound respectively).
      The return on their investments is +5, +2, and +0 pounds).
They are similar, in that, in both parables...
  • the reward for each of three servants is identified.
  • two servants are faithful and rewarded accordingly.
  • one servant is unfaithful, has a low view of his Master, and is rewarded accordingly.
The Parable of the Eight Talents - major points...
  1. the travelling man - represents the Lord Jesus who departed but will come again.
  2. his own servants - ie., individual Jews. cp. Ex 19:5,6
    While Church Age believers would do well to take to heart the warnings of both 'Talent' parables, the primary applications, in context, are to Israel.
        The parable of the Ten Talents (in Luke), delivered by the King, at the time of His rejection, speaks to His 'citizens' (the nation of Israel), who would not have Him to reign over them. Subsequently, He went away. But upon His return to establish His Kingdom on earth, He will settle accounts with His people. His enemies will be destroyed. His servants will be rewarded for their service.
        The parable of the Eight Talents (in Matthew), follows in close relation to the parable of the Ten Virgins (v.1-13). Like that parable, it is focused on the nation of Israel, at the close of the Tribulation period (the true Church having been previously taken to heaven in the Rapture). Like the Ten Virgins, all parties in this parable profess to know and serve the Lord, whose return they await. (There is no mention of any enemies). As with the Ten Virgins, this parable is set at the close of the 'kingdom of heaven' mystery period, with its mixture of true believers and merely professed unbelievers.
        As He was departing, not to return for 'a long time' (ie., the span of the Church Age, v.19), the Lord provided resources for these servants. During the Tribulation period, those who are alive upon the earth, and who had not previously believed, will have reason to reconsider the things pertaining to the King.
  3. a talent - was a considerable sum of money, worth 6,000 denarii
    (one denarius was a day's wage for a laborer).
    • one talent- a wealth of advantage was given to the Jews. cp. Rom 3:1-3; 9:4,5
      A similar advantage was given to those who profess Christianity (Rev 3:3).
      The basis for knowing and serving the Lord has been entrusted to us,
      but only through faith can an individual avail himself of these things.
    • two talents, five talents- ''grace multiplied,'' cp. 2Pet 1:1-4
  4. the assignment of talents (v.15) was according to each man's ability.
    cp. Rom 12:6-8; 1Cor 12:4-11; 1Pet 4:10,11
  5. the assignment of reward (v.20-23) -
    • was not on the basis of 'ability,' but according to each man's faithfulness, or unfaithfulness. cp. 1Cor 4:1,2
      (Note that the reward of the man who gained two talents was identical to that of the man who gained five talents.)
    • will be determined by the King at His return to earth.
      Individuals, who profess to be His servants will give account, at that time.
      (Church age believers will give account to Christ in heaven, following the Rapture. 2Cor 5:10; 1Cor 3:11-15; 2Pet 1:5-11)
  6. the substance of the reward (v.21,23) -
    1. increased opportunity to serve the Lord. cp. 24:46,47; Luk 19:16-19
    2. a share in the Lord's joy. cp. Psa 16:11; Joh 15:10,11; Zeph 3:17; Heb 12:1,2
  7. the unprofitable servant's punishment (v.28-30) -
    1. loss of that which he had originally been given.
      Everyone, with a Jewish or Christian heritage, has been given the Bible, the written Word of God, which is "able to make thee wise unto salvation" (2Tim 3:15). Tragically, many people neglect this treasure, burying it under the busyness of this passing earthly life.
    2. exclusion from the Kingdom; separation from the presence of the Lord. cp. Mat 8:11,12; 13:41-43; 24:48-51
      The severity of this punishment is not due to his unfaithfulness in service alone, but due to his lack of faith in the Lord (v.24-26). (A true believer who is unfaithful in service, will suffer loss of reward, but not loss of salvation. cp. 1Cor 3:15)
          This man's unfaithfulness was rooted in his unbelief in the Lord, whom he did not truly know. The unfaithful servant actually judged the Lord to be untrustworthy! He did not know Him, because he had neglected the resources given to him. cp. Heb 6:4-9
    The reality of every individual's faithfulness toward Christ will be revealed at His coming.
    Although, in the context of Matthew ch. 24-25, the primary application is to Israel, there are obvious parallels to the accountability of Church Age believers to the Lord.
A Preview of the Judgment of the Nations (v.31-46) -
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:
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:
25:33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
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:
25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me:
I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying,
Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink?
25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]?
25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
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.
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:
25:42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
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.
25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying,
Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked,
or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
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.
25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment:
but the righteous into life eternal.
The Judgment of the Nations -
[also see Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth - Lesson 5, The Five Judgments (also accessible via the Resource Menu).]
When will it take place? - v.31; cp. Joel 3:1-3-f
When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and... shall sit on the throne of His glory.
ie., When Christ establishes His Kingdom on earth.
Who are involved? -
  1. The Nations, divided into two groups (v.32) -
    {'nations' is GK=ethnos, frequently translated 'gentiles,' eg. Rom 11:13}
    1. sheep - ie., saved gentiles. cp. Joh 10:11,16,27,28; Psa 100:3
    2. goats- ie., unsaved gentiles. cp. Joh 10:26
  2. My brethren (v.40) - Also in two groups, the first is primarily in view...
    • Jewish people (Jesus' brethren according to the flesh, who will be persecuted during the Tribulation (cp. Rom 1:3; 9:3-5; Rev 12:13). By the time of His coming, 'all Israel' (all surviving Jews) will have come to faith in Him (Rom 11:25,26).
    • All who believe in Christ (Jew or Gentile, Rom 8:29; Heb 2:10-13). During the Tribulation, many, who turn in faith to Christ, will soon become martyrs (Rev 6:9-11; 7:9-14).
What is the basis of this judgment?
The treatment of 'the least of these my brethren' (v.40,45).
  • This judgment applies to those gentiles who survive to the end of the Tribulation period, and who are physically alive, at the time when Christ begins to establish His Kingdom on earth.
  • The judgment is not based on the relative merit of actions (eg., kindness vs. unkindness), but rather of what those actions reveal of the heart's faith and love toward Christ (cp. Mat 12:35). During the Tribulation, Christ's 'brethren' (the Jews and believing Gentiles) will be persecuted severely by the Antichrist and those aligned with him. Anyone who offers assistance to a Jew (or believing Gentile) will place himself in peril. Therefore, only those gentiles, who belong to Christ, will risk identification with His brethren. cp. Mat 10:40-42; 16:26,27; Mark 8:38
What is the outcome of this judgment?
Relative to Gentiles who are alive on earth, at the beginning of Christ's reign...
  1. The 'sheep' are welcomed into the Kingdom of the Messiah on the earth (v.34),
    and also into eternal life (v.46b).
  2. The 'goats' are banished...
    • to everlasting fire (v.41).
      This is the same fire into which the Devil and his angels {or, 'messengers'} will be cast at the start of Christ's Millennial Kingdom. cp. Rev 19:19-21; 20:1,2
    • to everlasting punishment (v.46a; cp. Zech 2:8),
The reality of every gentile's identification with Christ and His people will be revealed at His coming.

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