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Bible: What Does Matthew 25 Teach Us About Parables and About the Judgment of the Nations?

Updated on June 10, 2016

Wise and Foolish Virgins

Matt25_1_TheTenVirgins.jpg
Matt25_1_TheTenVirgins.jpg

Matthew 25: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins/The Parable of the Talents/Christ's Judgment Upon the Nations

Jesus continues the theme of the necessity of vigilance while waiting for His Second Coming by relating His “Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins” (vv. 1-13).

[The logical connective “Then” may signal this idea (v. 1).]

Charles Ryrie’s helpful note in his Study Bible-New Testament explains that these women represent the “professing Jewish remnant on earth at His [Christ’s] return” (53) [bracketed word mine].

Whereas five virgins wisely prepare themselves for the bridegroom’s (the Son of Man) return with His bride (the Church) by possessing oil to fill their lamps (vv. 2a, 4), five of them foolishly neglect to secure oil for themselves (vv. 2b-3).

Since the bridegroom delays his return, all of them go to bed (v. 5).

When he finally arrives at midnight, they all awake and trim their lamps (vv. 6-7); however, the foolish ones, having little oil left, must leave the premises to buy some more because the wise virgins have none to spare (vv. 8-9).

Those who are ready for the groom enter the wedding hall with him, and the door closes (v. 10).

When the others return and desire entrance, the master forbids it, declaring that he does not know them (vv. 11-12).

The moral: watch, and be vigilant at all times, for one does not know when the Messiah will return (v. 13).

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Teachings_of_Jesus_30_

The Parable of the Talents

A final parable—that of the Talents—contrasts the characteristics of those who make good use of God’s gifts (here, pieces of money, talents, [lit., silver]) with those who do not; the story also reveals where these servants stand in the kingdom of heaven (vv. 14-30).

The parable proper introduces a certain man (God) who, before going on a journey, gives varying numbers of talents—five, two, and one respectively—to his servants to do with what they will (vv. 14-15).

The first two men conduct business with the entrusted finances, and their investment pays off one hundredfold (vv. 16-17).

The third individual, however, buries the master’s money (v. 18).

Upon the lord’s return, the three servants appear before him to give an account of how they used their talent(s) [vv. 19-30]. Each interview proceeds in the following way:

(1) The servant summarizes his activity (or lack thereof) [vv. 20, 22, 24-25], and

(2) the master responds to his servant's report (vv. 21, 23, 26-30).

The two industrious servants receive from their lord the same commendation (“Well done, good and faithful servant . . .”) and the same reward for their faithfulness (“I will make you . . . lord”) [vv. 21, 23].

The only difference is that the man with the ten talents also acquires the talent the third man forfeits (vv. 28b-29).

On the other hand, the unfaithful man suffers the master’s severe reprimand for allowing bitterness toward the latter’s unfairness (falsely perceived) to keep him from performing the least that he could have done: put his money in the bank to earn interest (vv. 26-27).

He also must endure the confiscation of his talent (v. 28) and humiliating exclusion from the master’s presence (v. 30).

[Is this “humiliating exclusion” equivalent to eternal separation from God?]

Judgment of the "Sheep" and the "Goats"

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sheepgoat.jpg

The "Sheep and Goats" Judgment


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Jesus' Judgment of the Nations

Finally, Jesus discourses about His (the Son of Man’s) judgment of the Gentiles (that is, the nations) after He returns to Earth at the end of the Great Tribulation (vv. 31-46).


While seated on His throne, He directs His angels to gather before Him the relatively few people left alive after the decimation of this terrible time of trouble.


There He infallibly separates the “sheep” (believers) from the “goats” (unbelievers), putting the former on His right and the latter on His left (vv. 31-33).


The King’s approach to His assessment of these two groups follows a specific pattern:

(1) Having already separated the nations into two groups, He now assigns individuals to their destiny: either His kingdom (v. 34) or everlasting fire (v. 41);

(2) He explains His criterion for judgment: their treatment of His “brethren” (the Jews) during the Tribulation (vv. 35-36; 42-43);

(3) He allows group spokespersons to seek understanding of His criterion (vv. 37-39; 44); and

(4) He answers their query (vv. 40, 45).


After they all understand the King’s answer to this fundamental question, they go to their reward (eternal life) or to their damnation (eternal punishment) [v. 46].


The sheep, unconscious of their goodness in ministering to the Jews (and thus to Christ), inherit the kingdom/eternal life.


The goats, on the other hand, unconscious (?) of their neglect to help the Jews (and thus Christ) in their distress, go to Hell.


Their respective deeds show either the presence or the absence of a faith commitment to the Lord.

© 2013 glynch1

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    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      I read an explination with the 10 virgins once that helped me understand it better, to help deepen you're explanation:

      The lamps used, when lit, would stay lit for about 2 hours. the 10 virgins started with fully oiled lamps, but the 5 foolish lit their lamps shortly after the sun went down, when it began to get dark, however, the Bridegroom didn't come at this time. The bridegroom came at Midnight, an unexpected time, and only the 5 wise virgins, who kept their oil were prepared to meet the Bridegroom. this also kind of falls in line with the story of the vineyard and the servants, the thieves came in and broke down the walls at night, a time least expected

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 4 years ago

      Perhaps by way of application, we can say that we should treat everyone well. However, according to the historical context in Matthew 25, the "Sheep and the Goats" judgment will occur when Christ returns to Earth. Jesus will judge the Gentiles according to how they treated His brethren during the Great Tribulation period.

      We are not all God's children; only those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior have been given the authority to become children of God (John 1: 12). God does not love all mankind equally. Mankind, by nature, are "children of wrath" (Eph. 2: 3).

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 4 years ago

      Believers in Christ have been adopted into the family of God, not all people. "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." God chose His elect before the foundation of the world, and allows the rest to go their own way. He respects their desires and lets them choose to reject Him and His gospel.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 4 years ago

      The "final judgment" does not happen at one time. Christ, the Judge, will ascertain the worth of the works of believers probably after the Rapture (1 Cor. 3) ; He will assess the lives of Israelites in the wilderness before they enter the Millennium (Ezek. 20); and He will also hold court at the Great White Throne after the Millennium. We must not lump all judgments into one place and time.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      out of curiosity, how do you come to your conclusions? You have so many hubs written over a span of topics

    • glynch1 profile image
      Author

      glynch1 4 years ago

      I do not know what you mean by "come to your conclusions." Regarding what? I would guess that you mean how do I come to believe what I believe. I have been studying the Scriptures and writing about biblical and theological issues for over thirty years.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      I was just reviewing over all of your other comments on this hub, its an interesting contrast.

    • glynch1 profile image
      Author

      glynch1 4 years ago

      What is an "interesting contrast"?

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      I think what gets me is the perspective that we're not God's children, and he doesn't love us all.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 4 years ago

      By creation, all human beings are God's offspring (Acts 17:29). But only born-again believers in Christ are children of God by adoption (John 1:12, 13; Romans 8:15). When mankind sinned, each individual became a child of the devil (Ephesians 21-2; John 8:44; 1 John 3: 8-10). God is kind and good toward all humanity, so in that sense He shows us all grace and love. But He loves His elect with a love that saves them from Hell.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      Interesting. I don't necessarily think that God saves only those he loves from Hell. He not only shows kindness to all men, but "For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." We are literal spirit children of God the Father, and those who believe in Christ become his adopted children. God is just, so the wicked who believe and repent not must be punished, but he still loves them. If you have kids, you always love them, even when they may do things they shouldn't be doing.

    • glynch1 profile image
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      glynch1 4 years ago

      As Jesus and Paul have said, those who are not in God's family are spiritually children of the devil. We are all not "spirit children" of God the Father; that is a Mormon heresy. God showers His common grace upon all mankind, but reserves His special grace for His elect.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      Is it a heresy? Have you prayed to know? Have you sincerely asked God if you are his spirit child or not?

    • glynch1 profile image
      Author

      glynch1 4 years ago

      Where in Scripture does the phrase "spirit child" appear? I know of none.

      I became assured of my salvation shortly after I trusted Christ as my personal Savior. I read several passages in Scripture (objective testimony) that spoke of knowing that one has eternal life (e. g. 1 John 5: 11-13), and the Holy Spirit bore witness with my spirit (subjective evidence) that I am a child of God (Romans 8:16). I saw changes in my life as the result of my conversion to true Christianity, iincluding an intense desire to know Christ and His word.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      Just as the spirit bore testimony, you are a child of God. But before we gained mortal our bodies, we were spirits. We are physical children of mortal parents, but God is the father of our spirits. In that sense, we are children of God, just as the Holy Ghost bore reference, it is true. I applaud your desire to know Christ and his words. 30+ years of studying scriptures is a very long time indeed! To know of spiritual truths, we must seek answers from him whose words we read. I would exhort you to pray for enlightenment and answers.

      I speak from experience, as I personally struggle with this in my own studies. I like to think I know something, or understand a passage/teaching's meaning, but I never ask to know if what I think true, is really God's truth or just my own understanding. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts". May God continue to bless the life of you and your family as you earnestly seek to follow him!

    • glynch1 profile image
      Author

      glynch1 4 years ago

      What Scripture do you have to prove that "before we gained our bodies, we were spirits"? Only God has pre-existence; before we were born, we did not exist. We are not gods.

      I have already been enlightened and regenerated, but I do need daily renewing of my mind. That is why I pray and read God's word. If you are a Mormon, I challenge you to read The God Makers by a fellow named Decker (I believe).

    • glynch1 profile image
      Author

      glynch1 4 years ago

      I do not agree with Mormon interpretation of the Scriptures nor do I accept its extra books.

    • Wakerra profile image

      Wakerra 4 years ago

      And that is personal choice. I merely answered your question of where in the scriptures it talks about before our earthly bodies. The links contained several scriptures referencing in the bible, it did not "interpret" anything. Interpretation should be found through prayerful study and the Holy Ghost. It is up to you if you choose to study it or not

    • glynch1 profile image
      Author

      glynch1 4 years ago

      I have taught a course on Biblical Christianity versus Mormonism, and have found the latter wanting in historical, biblical, and spiritual facts and truth.

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