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.
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(9) Not so.—The words, as the italics show, are not in the Greek. They are, perhaps, necessary to complete the sense in English; but there is a tone of regretful tenderness in the way in which, in the original, the wise virgins give the reason that makes compliance with the request impossible, without directly uttering a refusal.

Go ye rather to them that sell.—This feature in the parable is too remarkable to be passed over lightly, especially as the “exchangers” in the parable that follows are clearly more or less analogous. We have to ask, then, who they are that, in the interpretation of the parable, according to the data already ascertained, answer to “them that sell.” And the answer is, that they are the pastors and teachers of the Church—the stewards of the mysteries of God. Through them, whether as preachers of the divine Word of Wisdom, or as administering the sacraments which are signs and means of grace, men may, by God’s appointment, obtain the gift and grace they need. The “buying” and “selling” belong, of course, in their literal sense, to the parable only. No gift of God can be purchased with money (Acts 8:20). But the words are not, therefore, any more than in Matthew 13:44-46 (where see Notes), destitute of meaning. Men may “buy” the truth which they are not to sell (Proverbs 23:23). They are invited to buy the “wine and milk,” which symbolise God’s spiritual gifts, “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). The price that God requires is the consecration of their heart (Proverbs 23:26).

Matthew 25:9. But the wise answered, saying, Not so — The words, not so, are not in the Greek, which is only, μηποτε ουκ αρκεση ημιν και υμιν, lest it should not be sufficient for us and you. They begin the sentence abruptly, showing thereby their surprise at the state of those poor wretches who had so long deceived them, as well as their own souls. Lest there be not enough — It is sure there is not: for no man has more holiness than is sufficient for himself. Go ye rather to them that sell — Without money, and without price: That is, to God in Christ. And buy — If ye can. O no! The time is past, and returns no more. But this clause, Buy for yourselves, seems, as Dr. Doddridge observes, “merely an ornamental circumstance; and it is strange that any popish writers should consider it as favouring their doctrine of a stock of merits in the church, founded on works of supererogation; since, if it referred to them at all, (which there is no reason to imagine,) it would rather expose than encourage any dependance upon them.” Observe, reader, now only is the accepted time, and the day of salvation, when we may come to God through Christ, in the use of the means of grace, and buy for ourselves the divine oil, which will never fail us: nay, we are counselled and exhorted to do so: and if we despise and reject these counsels and exhortations, while they may be useful, our cries and wishes will be as surely rejected another day, and our vain attempts to purchase when the bridegroom is coming will issue in an eternal exclusion from his kingdom.

25:1-13 The circumstances of the parable of the ten virgins were taken from the marriage customs among the Jews, and explain the great day of Christ's coming. See the nature of Christianity. As Christians we profess to attend upon Christ, to honour him, also to be waiting for his coming. Sincere Christians are the wise virgins, and hypocrites the foolish ones. Those are the truly wise or foolish that are so in the affairs of their souls. Many have a lamp of profession in their hands, but have not, in their hearts, sound knowledge and settled resolution, which are needed to carry them through the services and trials of the present state. Their hearts are not stored with holy dispositions, by the new-creating Spirit of God. Our light must shine before men in good works; but this is not likely to be long done, unless there is a fixed, active principle in the heart, of faith in Christ, and love to God and our brethren. They all slumbered and slept. The delay represents the space between the real or apparent conversion of these professors, and the coming of Christ, to take them away by death, or to judge the world. But though Christ tarry past our time, he will not tarry past the due time. The wise virgins kept their lamps burning, but they did not keep themselves awake. Too many real Christians grow remiss, and one degree of carelessness makes way for another. Those that allow themselves to slumber, will scarcely keep from sleeping; therefore dread the beginning of spiritual decays. A startling summons was given. Go ye forth to meet Him, is a call to those prepared. The notice of Christ's approach, and the call to meet him, will awaken. Even those best prepared for death have work to do to get actually ready, 2Pe 3:14. It will be a day of search and inquiry; and it concerns us to think how we shall then be found. Some wanted oil to supply their lamps when going out. Those that take up short of true grace, will certainly find the want of it one time or other. An outward profession may light a man along this world, but the damps of the valley of the shadow of death will put out such a light. Those who care not to live the life, yet would die the death of the righteous. But those that would be saved, must have grace of their own; and those that have most grace, have none to spare. The best need more from Christ. And while the poor alarmed soul addresses itself, upon a sick-bed, to repentance and prayer, in awful confusion, death comes, judgment comes, the work is undone, and the poor sinner is undone for ever. This comes of having oil to buy when we should burn it, grace to get when we should use it. Those, and those only, shall go to heaven hereafter, that are made ready for heaven here. The suddenness of death and of Christ's coming to us then, will not hinder our happiness, if we have been prepared. The door was shut. Many will seek admission into heaven when it is too late. The vain confidence of hypocrites will carry them far in expectations of happiness. The unexpected summons of death may alarm the Christian; but, proceeding without delay to trim his lamp, his graces often shine more bright; while the mere professor's conduct shows that his lamp is going out. Watch therefore, attend to the business of your souls. Be in the fear of the Lord all the day long.Trimmed their lamps - Burning until midnight, the oil was exhausted: they gave a dim and obscure light. They trimmed them by removing the burnt parts of the linen or the torch, so that they would burn clear. It was needful, also, to dip them again in oil, or to pour oil upon them. This strikingly represents the conduct of most people at the approach of death. They then begin to make ready. They are alarmed, anxious, and trembling, and then they ask the aid of others, but often when it is forever too late. 9. But the wise answered, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you—The words "Not so," it will be seen, are not in the original, where the reply is very elliptical—"In case there be not enough for us and you." A truly wise answer this. "And what, then, if we shall share it with you? Why, both will be undone."

but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves—Here again it would be straining the parable beyond its legitimate design to make it teach that men may get salvation even after they are supposed and required to have it already gotten. It is merely a friendly way of reminding them of the proper way of obtaining the needed and precious article, with a certain reflection on them for having it now to seek. Also, when the parable speaks of "selling" and "buying" that valuable article, it means simply, "Go, get it in the only legitimate way." And yet the word "buy" is significant; for we are elsewhere bidden, "buy wine and milk without money and without price," and "buy of Christ gold tried in the fire," &c. (Isa 55:1; Re 3:18). Now, since what we pay the demanded price for becomes thereby our own property, the salvation which we thus take gratuitously at God's hands, being bought in His own sense of that word, becomes ours thereby in inalienable possession. (Compare for the language, Pr 23:23; Mt 13:44).

See Poole on "Matthew 25:13".

But the wise answered, saying, not so,.... A flat denial; and which sprung not from want or compassion; for the saints are taught not only to compassionate one another, and to pity fallen professors, but even to regard their very enemies in distress: nor from a narrow, stubborn spirit, since such are directed and exhorted to communicate freely, both in things temporal and spiritual, they are capable of, to them that are in need, and even to lay down their lives for the brethren; nor from an uncivil, morose, and churlish disposition; or from a careless and indolent one, as being unconcerned what became of these persons; but from an indignation at the honour put upon them, and the slight put upon God and Christ, and the Spirit of grace: saints know that all grace comes from Father, Son, and Spirit; and frankly own, that what they have is from thence; and they give God all the glory of it, and cannot bear any such application to them for it, as this; but show the same spirit, as Paul and Barnabas did, when the Lystrians were going to sacrifice to them. Moreover, this denial arose from a consciousness of insufficiency to help them in this respect: it is the saints' mercy that they cannot lose the grace they have, nor can any take it away from them, and it is not in their power to give it away; nor can any be sanctified, or justified, or saved, by another man's grace: the reason alleged by them is,

lest there be not enough for us and you; saints have a large abundance of grace communicated to them; some have more, others less; at least it so appears, as to exercise; but they that have the most, have none to spare, and see their need of more; and ask for more, being sensible that present grace in them, is not sufficient for time to come, but grace in Christ only; wherefore their answer, and the reason of it, were like themselves, wise; and this destroys the notion of supererogation;

but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. This advice is thought by some, to be ironical and sarcastic; but it seems rather to be serious, and in good earnest; directing them to go to proper persons for grace; not to men, even ministers of the Gospel, nor to angels; but to God the Father, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort, who sits on a throne of grace, and gives it liberally to them that come to him for it through Christ, and ask it of him; and to Christ the mediator, who is full of grace and truth, and counsels persons to buy of him gold tried in the fire, grace more precious than the purest gold; and to the Spirit of grace, who gives it to all severally as he will: who are said to "sell", and "men" to buy; not in a proper sense, by giving any valuable consideration for the grace of God, which is impossible to be done; but in an improper sense, without money and without price; or in other words, by giving and receiving freely.

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 25:9. Μήποτεὑμῖν] Since οὐ μή is the correct reading (see critical remarks), and seeing that the ἀρκέσῃ following cannot be regarded as dependent on μήποτε, but only on οὐ μή, the punctuation should be as follows: μήποτε· οὐ μὴ ἀρκέσῃ, κ.τ.λ.: never (shall we give you of our oil): there will certainly not be enough for us and you! For the absolute negative μὴ, comp. Matthew 26:5; Exodus 10:11; Matthiae, p. 1454; Kühner, II. 2, p. 1047. Correctly Bornemann, as above, p. 110; Bleek, Lange, Luthardt. Comp. Winer, p. 556 [E. T. 632]; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 107.

Matthew 25:9. μήποτε, lest, implying, and giving a reason for, an unexpressed declinature. Kypke renders, perhaps, fortasse, citing examples from classics, also Loesner, giving examples from Philo. Elsner suggests that ὁρᾶτε or βλέπετε is understood before μήποτε. Schott, putting a comma after ὑμῖν, and omitting δὲ after πορεύεσθε, translates thus: lest perchance there be not enough for us and you, go rather to them that sell, etc. (“ne forte oleum neque nobis neque vobis sufficiat, abite potius,” etc.).—πορεύεσθε, etc.: this seems a cold, ungenerous suggestion on the part of the wise, and apparently untrue to what was likely to occur among girls at such a time. Could the oil really be got at such a time of night? and, supposing it could, would going not throw them out of the festivities? Augustine says: “non consulentium sed irridentium est ista responsio” (Serm. xc., iii., 8). More humanely, in the modern spirit, Koetsveld suggests that the marriage procession to music and song was very slow, and that there was a fair chance of overtaking it after the purchase (De Gelijk., p. 220). Let us hope so; but I fear we must fall back on the fact that “sudden emergencies bring into play a certain element of selfishness,” and take the advice of the wise as simply a refusal to be burdened with their neighbours’ affairs

9. lest there be not enough for us and you] The bridal procession was still to be made in which there would be need of burning lamps. The wise cannot impart their oil:—an incident necessary to the leading idea of the parable;—nothing can make up for unreadiness at the last moment. This point has been adduced as an argument against works of supererogation.

Not so; lest there be not] Accepting a variation in the text adopted by Lachmann and Tregelles and Meyer, translate “Not so;” (which now comes into the text,) “there will surely not be enough,” &c.

Matthew 25:9. Λέγουσαι, κ.τ.λ., saying, etc.) In this, as in everything else, they showed themselves prudent.—μήτοτε, κ.τ.λ., lest, etc.) A broken[1085] sentence, suitable to the hurry of that event.—οὐκ ἀρκέσῃ, there be not sufficient) sc. for both you and us: i.e. we cannot share with you: a metonomy of the consequent [for the antecedent]. Every one must live by his own faith.—ἡμῖν, for us) The prudent now have hardly[1086] enough for their own use. You ought previously to have followed the example of the prudent.—πορεύεσθε, κ.τ.λ., go ye, etc.) Let us do in time what will then prove to have been wise.—πρὸς τοὺς πωλοῦντας, to them that sell) although they are not traders [i.e. do not make salvation a matter of traffic].—ἀγοράσατε, buy) See Revelation 3:18.

[1085] “Not so,” is not expressed in the original, which abruptly begins with “μήποτε,” “lest haply.”—ED.

[1086] “Ægre.” There is here an allusion to 1 Peter 4:18, where Bengel renders μόλις (E. V. scarcely, Vulg. vix) by ægre. See Gnomon in loc.—(I. B.)

Verse 9. - Not so; lest there be not enough (μήποτε οὐ μὴ ἀρκέσῃ, haply it will not suffice). Edersheim renders, "Not at all - it will never suffice for us and you," in order to give the force of the double negation. In Aristotle, μήποτε is often equivalent to "perhaps," e.g. 'Eth. Nic.,' 10:1. 3. "Even so they failed," says St. Chrysostom, "and neither the humanity of those of whom they begged, nor the easiness of their request, nor their necessity and want, made them obtain their petition. And what do we learn from hence? That no man can protect us there if we are betrayed by our works; not because he will not, but because he cannot. For these, too, take refuge in the impossibility. This the blessed Abraham also indicated, saying, 'Between us and you there is a great gulf,' so that not even when willing is it permitted them to pass it." But (probably spurious) go ye rather to them that sell. The answer is not harsh, and the advice is not ironical or unkind. The wise cannot of themselves supply the lack. They have no superabundant store of grace to communicate to others; at best even they are unprofitable servants; the righteous shall scarcely be saved; so they direct their companions to the only source where effectual grace may be obtained. They that sell are the ministers and stewards of Christ's mysteries, who dispense the means of grace. These are said to be bought, as the treasure hid in the field or the pearl of great price is bought (Matthew 13:44-46). Divine grace can always be procured by those who will pay the price thereof; and the price is faith and prayer and earnestness, - nothing more, nothing less (Isaiah 55:1; Revelation 3:18). But the time is short; delay is fatal; hence the counsel so urgently given, "Go ye," etc. Buy for yourselves. This is important. Every one must bear his own burden. The grace must be their own; what is required of those who would meet the Bridegroom without shame and fear is personal preparation, personal faith and holiness. We shall be judged individually; our Christian virtues must be entirely our own, wrought in us by the grace of God, with which we have humbly and thankfully cooperated. It is curious that some ancient and modern commentators see in this part of the parable, only an ornamental detail without special signification. Matthew 25:9Not so, lest, etc. (μήποτε οὐ μὴ ἀρκέσῃ)

The Greek does not give the blunt negative of the A.V. It is a more courteous form of refusal, making the reason for refusing to supply the place of the negative. Give us of your oil, say the foolish. The wise reply, Lest perchance there be not by any means (οὐ μὴ, the double negative) enough. The Rev. gives it very happily. Peradventure there will not be enough, etc.

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