Matthew 25 Study Notes


25:1-5 Whereas the previous parable warned against postponing preparation for Christ’s coming, this one warns against making preparations that are inadequate for the lengthy delay that precedes his second coming.

25:6-9 The virgins least expected the groom to arrive in the middle of the night. This signifies the suddenness of Jesus’s return (24:36,42). The shout announcing the groom’s arrival parallels the trumpet blast in 24:31.

25:10-13 The foolish virgins represent those who fail to persevere by waiting for Jesus’s return with constant vigilance. Master, master (Gk kurie, kurie) is identical to the cry of the false disciples in 7:21. I don’t know you echoes 7:23 and expresses exclusion from Christ’s kingdom. The parable does not describe a true disciple who loses his salvation, but a false one whose commitment to Jesus was deficient from the start. By portraying himself as a spiritual bridegroom, Jesus implied his deity. God was often portrayed as a bridegroom in the OT (Is 54:4-6; Ezk 16:7-34; Hs 2:19).

25:14-30 The man on the long journey symbolizes Jesus and the lengthy delay that will precede his second coming. The talents (whose value equaled six thousand days of wages) represent the financial resources, gifts, privileges, and opportunities that Jesus entrusts to his disciples. The faithful servants (true disciples) used their gifts and resources responsibly and were generously rewarded. The evil, lazy servant (a false disciple) failed to use the resources and was severely punished. He attempted to excuse his failure by assaulting the character of his master (v. 24). However, the master’s treatment of the other servants demonstrates that the wicked servant’s slander was unfair.

25:31-46 This passage uses figurative language (shepherd . . . sheep . . . goats) drawn from Ezk 34:17-19 in Mt 25:32-33, but the rest is too literal to be classified as a parable. The passage is therefore best taken as a literal description of the final judgment. Verses 31 and 34 define the title Son of Man as King (see note at 8:18-20). The King, Jesus, will judge people based on their reception and treatment of the least of his brothers and sisters. In light of 12:50, the words refer to Jesus’s followers who seek to do God’s will. Humble and compassionate treatment of Jesus’s followers necessarily accompanies acceptance of the gospel that they proclaim (10:40-42). Those who show no compassion to Jesus’s followers betray their lack of devotion to him. As in 7:21-23, Jesus identifies himself as the final Judge, a role that Jews expected the Lord to fulfill.