^A Matt. XXV.1-46.
^a 1 Then [i. e., at the time of the Lord's coming. Jesus is still emphasizing the lesson of watchfulness, and proceeds to enforce it by two parables] shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten [probably the usual number on such occasions] virgins, who took their lamps [small earthenware vessels, with flax wicks, and without glass chimneys], and went forth to meet the bridegroom. [The Oriental wedding began with a feast in the house of the bride's father. After this the bridegroom led the bride to his own home, and it was the duty of his servants and household (of whom the ten virgins in this case were part) to honor him and the bride with an enthusiastic welcome.] 2 And five of them were foolish, and five were wise.3 For the foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them: 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. [The foolish showed their folly in failing to provide for their lord's delay. The oil in their lamps would only burn till about midnight. But the wise had provided an additional supply to burn from then till daylight.] 5 Now while the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. [Rather, "nodded and slept." They did not lie down to regular slumber, but took such innocent rest as their office permitted. Others were on the lookout, and would give the warning; so these were permitted to sleep, but only in such a posture that they would be ready to arise and go at once when apprised of their lord's approach.] 6 But at midnight there is a cry, Behold, the bridegroom! Come ye forth 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 going out. [The signal-call roused all ten, and each group of five prepared by trimming the lamps, etc. But then became apparent the difference between them. All had made some preparation, but that of the foolish five had been insufficient. Their glory began to depart, and their light waned into darkness at the approach of the bridegroom.] 9 But the wise answered, saying, Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you: go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. [There will be no borrowed righteousness on the day of the Lord's coming, for no one will have any to spare. The Roman Catholic confidence in saints, and the trust of some Protestants in pious parents, are alike unavailing: each soul must see to its own lamp. Those who had the oil to sell are merely part of the drapery of the parable, put in to bring out the point that it was then too late to secure any oil. The oil of God's grace is given without money and without price, but in the hour of the Lord's appearing it will be too late to seek for it.] 10 And while they went away to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast: and the door was shut. [The feast in the bridegroom's house was considered the most important part of the marriage, and certainly for those of the lord's own household it was the only feast. To be shut out from it was to be deprived of all participation in the marriage joy. All the wisdom and shrewdness of Universalism can never open this shut door.] 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. [The verb "know" is here used, according to the Jewish idiom, for favorable knowledge (Matt. vii.23). It signified that these virgins, on account of their remissness, were no longer counted even as acquaintances, much less as part of the household.] 13 Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour. [Thus Jesus makes his own application of the parable.] 14 For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey.16 Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents. [The parable of the virgins represented watchfulness displaying itself in waiting for the Lord, while it is here displayed in working for him. There it was inward spiritual life, here it is external activity.] 17 In like manner he also that received the two gained other two.18 But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.19 Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them. [We have here one of the Lord's intimations that the day of judgment would not come at once. The word for servants is douloi, which means slaves. They were the property of the master and he might dispose of them as he pleased. The reckoning is as sure as the trust; judgment is as sure as life. A man who had entrusted a talent (from [USD]1,600 to [USD]1,800) would surely not forget to ask a settlement, nor will God fail to demand an accounting from all those to whom he had entrusted the riches and privileges of this wonderful human life which he has given us, though many of us may lightly esteem it.] 20 And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents.21 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [The joy of the lord was doubtless some festival in celebration of his return, and it stands for the joy of Christ in the Father's house.] 22 And he also that received the two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: lo, I have gained other two talents.23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [The second servant, having done well proportionately as the first, received the like precious commendation.] 24 And he also that had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter; 25 and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own.26 But 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 did not scatter; 27 thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest.28 Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents.29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away.30 And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. [See pp.565, 566. This parable is much like that of the pounds, but differs in several particulars. There the same amount was entrusted to each one, but the returns were different, and the rewards were different. Here different amounts were entrusted, the returns were in proportion to the trust, and the rewards were the same.] 31 But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory [Christ's judgment throne is called his throne of glory because in the day that he sits upon it his glory will be exhibited to men more brightly than ever before; for in the decisions of that hour his mercy, justice, and righteousness will most fully appear, and all the obscure things in the past administration of his government will be made clear]: 32 and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them [not the nations, but the individuals which compose them] one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats [It was the custom for the shepherd to let the sheep and goats feed together during the day and to separate them at night. This custom is placed in the parable because it is analogous to the present commingling and final separation of men. Goats are here employed to represent the evil class of men, because goats have to be driven while sheep follow the shepherd]; 33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. [The right hand is always represented as the place of honor and preferment. The Jews in their traditions say that when criminals were tried by the Sanhedrin those who were acquitted were placed on the right hand, and those who were condemned on the left.] 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit [take possession of as rightful heirs] the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world [God's purpose designed such a kingdom from the beginning (Eph. i.9-14), and we may conceive of it as in process of preparation ever since -- John xiv.2]: 35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. [The acts here enumerated indicate more than a mere outlay of money. They are not such are the offspring of impulse, but such as call for the sacrifice of time, strength, sympathy, etc., and clearly demonstrate the fullness of the Christian life. Moreover, Jesus does not mean to teach that mere works of benevolence are a sufficient ground for salvation. The meaning is that none can be saved without these fruits of faith and love. The passage must be construed in the light of other Scriptures which teach the further necessity of forgiveness on the part of God and of obedience on the part of man.] 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? 38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me. [This conversation is the drapery of the narrative. Such words will not be actually spoken at the judgment, but they are introduced for the twofold purpose of illustrating the beautiful unconsciousness of merit and which characterizes the noblest of deeds and the more important fact that anything done for his sake is the same as done for his person -- Matt. x.42; Mark ix.41.] 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels [The two preparations stand in contrast. God prepared a kingdom of joy and designed that man should be with him in it. He also prepared a place for punishment for Satan and his angels, and man can cast his lot there and share that punishment if he wills to do so]: 42 for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; 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.44 Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me. [The neglect or abuse of Christ's disciples is a direct affront to his person -- Acts ix.4.] 46 And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life. [This verse contains two important truths: 1. That the doom of the wicked is as durable as the reward of the righteous.2. That the doom of the wicked is a punishment. The word "punishment" expresses misery and suffering purposely inflicted.]