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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 25)

25:1 {Ten virgins} (\deka parthenois\). No special point in the
number ten. The scene is apparently centered round the house of
the bride to which the bridegroom is coming for the wedding
festivities. But Plummer places the scene near the house of the
bridegroom who has gone to bring the bride home. It is not
pertinent to the point of the parable to settle it. {Lamps}
(\lampadas\). Probably torches with a wooden staff and a dish on
top in which was placed a piece of rope or cloth dipped in oil or
pitch. But sometimes \lampas\ has the meaning of oil lamp
(\luchnos\) as in Ac 20:8. That may be the meaning here
(Rutherford, _New Phrynichus_).

25:3 {Took no oil with them} (\ouk elabon meth' heautōn elaion\).
Probably none at all, not realizing their lack of oil till they
lit the torches on the arrival of the bridegroom and his party.

25:4 {In their vessels} (\en tois aggeiois\). Here alone in the
N.T., through \aggē\ in 13:48. Extra supply in these
receptacles besides the oil in the dish on top of the staff.

25:5 {They all slumbered and slept} (\enustaxan pāsai kai
. They dropped off to sleep, nodded (ingressive
and then went on sleeping (imperfect, linear action), a
vivid picture drawn by the difference in the two tenses. Many a
preacher has seen this happen while he is preaching.

25:6 {There is a cry} (\kraugē gegonen\). A cry has come.
Dramatic use of the present perfect (second perfect active)
indicative, not the perfect for the aorist. It is not \estin\,
but \gegonen\ which emphasizes the sudden outcry which has rent
the air. The very memory of it is preserved by this tense with
all the bustle and confusion, the rushing to the oil-venders.
{Come ye forth to meet him} (\exerchesthe eis apantēsin\). Or, Go
out for meeting him, dependent on whether the cry comes from
outside the house or inside the house where they were sleeping
because of the delay. It was a ceremonial salutation neatly
expressed by the Greek phrase.

25:7 {Trimmed} (\ekosmēsan\). Put in order, made ready. The wicks
were trimmed, the lights being out while they slept, fresh oil
put in the dish, and lit again. A marriage ceremony in India is
described by Ward (_View of the Hindoos_) in Trench's _Parables_:
"After waiting two or three hours, at length near midnight it was
announced, as in the very words of Scripture, 'Behold the
bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.'"

25:8 {Are going out} (\sbennuntai\). Present middle indicative of
linear action, not punctiliar or aoristic. When the five foolish
virgins lit their lamps, they discovered the lack of oil. The
sputtering, flickering, smoking wicks were a sad revelation. "And
_perhaps_ we are to understand that there is something in the
coincidence of the lamps going out just as the Bridegroom
arrived. Mere outward religion is found to have no illuminating
power" (Plummer).

25:9 {Peradventure there will not be enough for us and you}
(\mēpote ou mē arkesei hēmŒn kai humŒn\). There is an elliptical
construction here that is not easy of explanation. Some MSS.
Aleph A L Z have \ouk\ instead of \ou mē\. But even so \mē pote\
has to be explained either by supplying an imperative like
\ginesthō\ or by a verb of fearing like \phoboumetha\ (this most
. Either \ouk\ or \ou mē\ would be proper with the
futuristic subjunctive \arkesei\ (Moulton, _Prolegomena_, p. 192;
Robertson, _Grammar_, pp. 1161,1174)
. "We are afraid that there
is no possibility of there being enough for us both." This is a
denial of oil by the wise virgins because there was not enough
for both. "It was necessary to show that the foolish virgins
could not have the consequences of their folly averted at the
last moment" (Plummer). It is a courteous reply, but it is
decisive. The compound Greek negatives are very expressive,
\mēpote--ou mē\.

25:10 {And while they went away} (\aperchomenōn de autōn\).
Present middle participle, genitive absolute, while they were
going away, descriptive linear action. Picture of their
inevitable folly. {Was shut} (\ekleisthē\). Effective aorist
passive indicative, shut to stay shut.

25:11 {Afterward} (\husteron\). And find the door shut in their
faces. {Lord, Lord, open to us} (\Kurie, Kurie, anoixon hēmin\).
They appeal to the bridegroom who is now master whether he is at
the bride's house or his own.

25:12 {I know you not} (\ouk oida humās\). Hence there was no
reason for special or unusual favours to be granted them. They
must abide the consequences of their own negligence.

25:13 {Watch therefore} (\grēgoreite oun\). This is the refrain
with all the parables. Lack of foresight is inexcusable.
Ignorance of the time of the second coming is not an excuse for
neglect, but a reason for readiness. Every preacher goes up
against this trait in human nature, putting off till another time
what should be done today.

25:14 {Going into another country} (\apodēmōn\). About to go away
from one's people (\dēmos\), on the point of going abroad. This
word in ancient use in this sense. There is an ellipse here that
has to be supplied, {It is as when} or {The kingdom of heaven is
as when}
. This Parable of the Talents is quite similar to the
Parable of the Pounds in Lu 19:11-28, but they are not
variations of the same story. Some scholars credit Jesus with
very little versatility. {His goods} (\ta huparchonta autou\).
His belongings, neuter participle used as a substantive.

25:15 {To one} (\hōi men, hōi de, hōi de\). Demonstrative \hos\,
not the relative. Neat Greek idiom. {According to his several
(\kata tēn idian dunamin\). According to his own
ability. Each had all that he was capable of handling. The use
that one makes of his opportunities is the measure of his
capacity for more. One talent represented a considerable amount
of money at that time when a \denarius\ was a day's wage. See on
¯18:24 for the value of a talent.

25:16 {Straightway} (\eutheōs\). Beginning of verse 16, not the
end of verse 15. The business temper of this slave is shown by
his promptness. {With them} (\en autois\). Instrumental use of
\en\. He worked (\ērgasato\), did business, traded with them.
"The virgins wait, the servants work" (Vincent). {Made}
(\epoiēsen\). But Westcott and Hort read \ekerdēsen\, gained, as
in verse 17. \Kerdos\ means interest. This gain was a hundred
per cent.

25:19 {Maketh a reckoning} (\sunairei logon\). As in 18:23.
Deissmann (_Light from the Ancient East_, p. 117) gives two
papyri quotations with this very business idiom and one Nubian
ostracon with it. The ancient Greek writers do not show it.

25:21 {The joy of thy lord} (\tēn charin tou kuriou sou\). The
word \chara\ or joy may refer to the feast on the master's
return. So in verse 23.

25:24 {That had received the one talent} (\ho to talenton
. Note the perfect active participle to emphasize the
fact that he still had it. In verse 20 we have \ho--labōn\
(aorist active participle). {I knew thee} (\egnōn se\). Second
aorist active indicative. Experimental knowledge (\ginōskō\) and
proleptical use of \se\. {A hard man} (\sklēros\). Harsh, stern,
rough man, worse than \austēros\ in Lu 19:21, grasping and
ungenerous. {Where thou didst not scatter} (\hothen ou
. But this scattering was the chaff from which
wheat was winnowed, not the scattering of seed.

25:26 {Thou wicked and slothful servant} (\ponēre doule kai
. From \ponos\ (work, annoyance, disturbance, evil) and
\okneō\ (to be slow, "poky," slothful). Westcott and Hort make a
question out of this reply to the end of verse 26. It is

25:27 {Thou oughtest therefore} (\edsi se oun\). His very words
of excuse convict him. It was a necessity (\edei\) that he did
not see. {The bankers} (\tois trapezeitais\). The benchers,
money-changers, brokers, who exchanged money for a fee and who
paid interest on money. Word common in late Greek. {I should have
received back}
(\egō ekomisamēn an\). Conclusion of a condition
of the second class (determined as unfulfilled). The condition is
not expressed, but it is implied. "If you had done that." {With
(\sun tokōi\). Not with "usury" in the sense of
extortion or oppression. Usury only means "use" in itself. The
word is from \tiktō\, to bring forth. Compound interest at six
per cent doubles the principal every twenty years. It is amazing
how rapidly that piles up if one carries it on for centuries and
millenniums. "In the early Roman Empire legal interest was eight
per cent, but in usurious transactions it was lent at twelve,
twenty-four, and even forty-eight" (Vincent). Such practices
exist today in our cities. The Mosaic law did not allow interest
in dealings between Hebrews, but only with strangers (De
23:19,20; Ps 15:5)

25:30 {The unprofitable} (\ton achreion\). Useless (\a\ privative
and \chreios\, useful)
and so unprofitable, injurious. Doing
nothing is doing harm.

25:32 {All the nations} (panta ta ethnē). Not just Gentiles, but
Jews also. Christians and non-Christians. This program for the
general judgment has been challenged by some scholars who regard
it as a composition by the evangelist to exalt Christ. But why
should not Christ say this if he is the Son of Man and the Son of
God and realized it? A "reduced" Christ has trouble with all the
Gospels, not merely with the Fourth Gospel, and no less with Q
and Mark than with Matthew and Luke. This is a majestic picture
with which to close the series of parables about readiness for
the second coming. Here is the program when he does come. "I am
aware that doubt is thrown on this passage by some critics. But
the doubt is most wanton. Where is the second brain that could
have invented anything so original and so sublime as vv.
35-40,42-45?" (Sanday, _Life of Christ in Recent Research_, p.
. {As the shepherd separates} (\hōsper ho poimēn aphorizei\).
A common figure in Palestine. The sheep are usually white and the
goats black. There are kids (\eriphōn, eriphia\) which have
grazed together. The goats devastate a field of all herbage.
"Indeed they have extirpated many species of trees which once
covered the hills" (Tristram, _Natural History of the Bible_, pp.
. The shepherd stands at the gate and taps the sheep to go
to the right and the goats to the left.

25:34 {From the foundation of the world} (\apo katabolēs
. The eternal purpose of the Father for his elect in all
the nations. The Son of Man in verse 31 is the King here seated
on the throne in judgment.

25:36 {Clothed me} (\periebalete me\). Second aorist middle
indicative, cast something around me. {Visited me}
(\epeskepsasthe me\). Looked after, came to see. Our "visit" is
from Latin _viso, video_. Cf. our English "go to see."

25:40 {Ye did it unto me} (\emoi epoiēsate\). Dative of personal
interest. Christ identifies himself with the needy and the
suffering. This conduct is proof of possession of love for Christ
and likeness to him.

25:42 {No meat} (\ouk edōkate moi phagein\). You did not give me
anything to eat. The repetition of the negative \ou\ in 42 and
43 is like the falling of clods on the coffin or the tomb. It
is curious the surprise here shown both by the sheep and the
goats. Some sheep will think that they are goats and some goats
will think that they are sheep.

25:46 {Eternal punishment} (\kolasin aiōnion\). The word
\kolasin\ comes from \kolazō\, to mutilate or prune. Hence those
who cling to the larger hope use this phrase to mean age-long
pruning that ultimately leads to salvation of the goats, as
disciplinary rather than penal. There is such a distinction as
Aristotle pointed out between \mōria\ (vengeance) and \kolasis\.
But the same adjective \aiōnios\ is used with \kolasin\ and
\zōēn\. If by etymology we limit the scope of \kolasin\, we may
likewise have only age-long \zōēn\. There is not the slightest
indication in the words of Jesus here that the punishment is not
coeval with the life. We can leave all this to the King himself
who is the Judge. The difficulty to one's mind about conditional
chastisement is to think how a life of sin in hell can be changed
into a life of love and obedience. The word \aiōnios\ (from
\aiōn\, age, \aevum, aei\)
means either without beginning or
without end or both. It comes as near to the idea of eternal as
the Greek can put it in one word. It is a difficult idea to put
into language. Sometimes we have "ages of ages" (\aiōnes tōn

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Word Pictures in the New Testament
(Matthew: Chapter 25)