Matthew 25 – Waiting and Working


Chapter 25 begins with two parables.  Parables are an ancient way of making one or two points, but are not meant to be taken literally line or line.  The first parable is about ten virgins, five who are wise and five who are foolish.  Some Christians get caught up in debates as to why the wise virgins won’t share with the foolish virgins.  This is not the point of the parable.  Instead, this parable teaches that we should be ready when the bridegroom comes.  All the bridesmaids had a lamp, but only half brought extra oil.  When the bridegroom was delayed, it was those with extra oil that were able to wait for him in the darkness of night.  When Jesus returns, like with Noah and his ark, the door of salvation is shut and can not be reopened (Matthew 24:37-39).  If one is not ready when He returns, then they are outside the scope of being saved.

In the same vein, the second parable speaks to our work ethic.  A talent is a form of currency that measures 6000 days of standard labor.  Therefore, one talent is worth a little over 16 years of wages.  The servant who received five talents received an enormous sum of money.  Notice, that not all laborers receive the same.  They are given talents according to their ability (vs. 15).  It is true that we are all equal at the foot of the cross.  It is also true that we have all been given different gifts and we are to use those gifts for the good of the body, which is the church (I Cor. 12:25).  The point of the parable is not how much you receive, but what you do with what you have been given.  The rewards of doing well with what we have been given are praise, promotion, and the joy of the master (vs. 21).  However, not all do well.  Some fall behind petty excuses of why they didn’t work hard.  God is not mocked and will eliminate every excuse we make.  We are all called to work for our Master in a way that advances His kingdom.



This final section of the last sermon of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is sometimes presented in a way that promotes worldwide evangelization.  However, this view is only one hundred years old.  Worldwide evangelization is seen in Matthew 28 and is clearly realized as making disciples of all the nations.  This last parable shows us the way we should act toward fellow believers.  Jesus calls those we should help, the “least of these” and “brothers” (vs. 40, 45).  The only other times in Scripture these words are used, refer to Christians.  Also, the church saw these verses as referring to only Christians for 1,850 years.  Only in the last 100 years have people used these verses to promote evangelism over Christian service to other believers.  To be fair, we should all love our neighbors, regardless who they are or what they are.  However, there is a special call to care for the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).  This is why the church labored so desperately to care for the needy among them (Acts 2:42-47).  The reality is, we are saved by faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).  However, even the famed reformer, Martin Luther himself said,

“O it is a busy, active, mighty thing, this faith.  It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly.  It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is even asked, it has already done them, and is constantly doing them.  Whoever does not do such works, however, is an unbeliever.”

We will be judged by our works and receive our just reward (I Cor. 3: 14-15).  Salvation, however, is by God’s grace alone.


Study Questions

  1. What was the true difference between the wise and foolish virgins?  How does this prepare us for the second coming of Christ?
  2. What is the true difference between the faithful servants who did more with what they were given and the unfaithful servant who buried his talent?  How does this prepare us for the second coming of Christ?
  3. Why do so many modern translators see the final parable of Chapter 25 as a call to worldwide evangelization, when the first 1,850 years of Christianity saw it as how we should treat one another as Christians?  How does this prepare us for the second coming of Christ?