Matthew 25 Questions and Answers
1. Read Matthew 25:1-13. What is the kingdom of heaven like?
- Ten virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom to come - some were prepared and ready to meet the bridegroom and some had not planned ahead so were not ready.
- Anticipation of the bride and bridegroom as they wait for their whole marriage process to begin. Typically, the wedding celebration started when the bridegroom came to the bride's house. The bride and all the bridesmaids (10 appeared to be a customary number to have) would be there waiting for him. One of the great things to do, if you could, was to catch the bridal party napping. So the bridegroom comes unexpectedly, and sometimes in the middle of the night - although he would be required to send a man ahead of him along the street to shout "Behold! The bridegroom is coming!" But that could happen at any time so the bridal party had to be ready to go out into the street at any time to meet him - whenever he chose to come. The other thing is that no one is allowed on the streets after dark without a lighted lamp, and when the bridegroom had arrived and the door had been shut, the late-comers to the ceremony would not be admitted.
- Once the bridegroom arrived, they would all go through the village, usually at night, with torches (be like a bridesmaid carrying flowers now) in a celebration of singing, talking, and joy. In the parable, everything was ready for the wedding to start. The bridegroom had prepared a home. He was now coming to come take his bride to their new home. He would come at night so the procession through the village could be enjoyed by everyone. Then the wedding party would go to the couple's house, where the celebration would continue for as long as seven days. At the end of the celebration, a friend of the bridegroom would take the hand of the bride, place it in the hand of the bridegroom, and everyone would leave. Then the couple would physically consummate their marriage.
2. Who do the 10 virgins represent?
- Initially, this parable was directed against the Jews. They were the chosen people; their whole history should have been a preparation for the coming of the Son of God; they should have been prepared for Him when He came. Instead they were quite unprepared and therefore were shut out. What a tragedy for the Jews.
- On a more universal scale, the 10 virgins would be those who profess to be God followers/Christians.
- They say they anticipate Christ's return and are prepared for Him. Their presence symbolizes their interest in Christ and their torch symbolizes their profession of faith in Christ.
3. Why were 5 of the virgins considered wise? Why were the other 5 considered foolish?
- On the surface the ten bridesmaids look alike but inwardly they are not alike.
- Today the foolish virgins would be those who grew up in the church and made a commitment - have a light but is going out because they are not filling their lives with spiritual nurture (not maintaining their relationship with Christ). In this way they are not preparing themselves to meet Christ
- The five that were called wise had planned ahead and prepared for the future. Had brought extra oil with them which means they were filling their lives with spiritual nurture so their lights wouldn't go out.
- The five that were called foolish were less careful, living only for the moment and not caring about the future. Therefore they were caught unawares because they hadn't planned or prepared for the future. They also could not borrow from those who were prepared.
- In this parable we see that all 10 identified themselves with Christ externally, but only five were really believers. The true believers were the wise ones.
- The foolish ones will deceive themselves by thinking that everything is OK because they are involved in church.
- Both the wise and wise & foolish virgins fell asleep because it was late, so that doesn't seem to be the problem - it was that the wise ones prepared themselves with oil before they fell asleep and the foolish didn't.
4. Why didn't the wise virgins share their oil with the foolish virgins?
- They said there wouldn't be enough for both of them
- It wasn't that the wise virgins were selfish; it's just that you can't borrow from someone else's relationship with Christ. Every person is accountable to make his own life right before God. A person also cannot borrow another person's character; he must be clothed with it. We cannot ride on the coat tails of others spiritual experiences; we need to acquire them for ourselves.
5. Who does the bridegroom represent?
6. How long would it be before the bridegroom came? What might those who are waiting for Him be tempted to do?
- He would be a long time in coming. He finally did arrive at midnight.
- They might become drowsy and fall asleep
- Maybe Jesus was subtly telling the disciples that the kingdom wouldn't come as soon as they expected or how they expected.
- It is easy to get excited about Christ's return but when nothing seems to happen, it is tempting to think that nothing will happen so just go back to our regular routines. We are to wait as we carry out our daily responsibilities. Matthew 24:40-41 says: "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left." People will be carrying on business as usual when Christ returns. Matthew 24:38 says, it will be like it was in the days of Noah, when people kept on eating, drinking, and marrying.
- Midnight seems to be a late time to start a wedding. Yet interestingly enough, the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians happened at midnight (Exodus 12:29-33).
7. What is the most important planning and preparing we can do for the future?
- Make sure we are part of God's kingdom by having received God's saving grace and stay in close relationship with Jesus so you keep being filled with His Spirit so you will be prepared when Christ returns.
- Keep watch for we don't know the day or hour that Christ will return
- We can't wait until the last minute to get ourselves ready for Christ's return - we can't do it when He is on the way. It is just like it is too late to begin to prepare for an exam on the day of the exam or it's too late for a person to acquire a skill or character, if he doesn't already possess it when an opportunity or task comes his way. Too late is always a tragedy so we need to prepare ourselves and be prepared for what lies ahead.
8. What is the consequence of being unprepared for Christ's return?
- If we are not ready when Christ returns we will be shut out from His presence and kingdom. We will be told by Jesus that He doesn't know us. (shudder)
9. What will be the reward for being prepared to greet Christ when He does return?
- Christ will admit only the prepared ones into the kingdom.
- We need to be wearing the wedding garment (Matthew 22:11)
10. Read Matthew 25:14-30. In this second parable, what is the kingdom of heaven like?
- Like a man going on a journey and leaving his property into the care of his servants. He gave each servant a different amount of talents/responsibility, depending on his ability.
- In Bible times, going to a far country could mean a trip of up to one or two years in length. When a person was to be gone that long, he would entrust his servants with his personal and business matters. The way the servants managed their master's assets while he was on his trip showed what kind of servants they were.
11. Who does the man going on a journey represent?
12. Who are the servants that have been entrusted with his possessions? What does the Master expect from them?
- Everyone who considers themselves a part of the church. In Jesus' parable the 3rd worthless servant would have stood for the Scribes and Pharisees and for their attitude to the Law and the truth of God. Their aim was to keep the Law exactly as it was and made sure that they defined it legalistically, which was paralyzing truth. It was for that that they were condemned. Whereas, we take a law and see how we can apply it to our lives.
- We are to use what we are given the way God wants us to until Christ returns. We have varying amounts of resources entrusted to us because each of us was created with different capabilities and we exist in differing circumstances. Some of us have been given five talents from the Lord, and others, one.
- If a servant really loves his master, he's going to take advantage of the opportunity to bring a return on his master's resources. The Lord gives everyone the opportunity to use His resources. The issue is how we use that opportunity. Among the many resources God has given us are the abilities to teach, evangelize the lost, and minister to the needy.
13. What is a talent in this parable?
- A talent is not a coin but a weight of a specific metal, usually gold, silver or copper - with which to carry on business while serving his master. The commonest metal was silver.
14. When did the man on the journey return? What will he do when he does return?
- He returned after a long time. I think Jesus was again trying to tell the disciples that His second coming will not happen as soon as they thought it would.
- When he returned he settled accounts with his servants
15. What had the first 2 servants done and what was the master's response?
- The first servant immediately put his money to work and gained 100% more. The second servant also gained 100% more than he was given.
- When the master returned the first 2 servants were excited to see the master returning because they knew they had done what the master expected and used the master's resources well.
- The master praised the two servants who had used the talents to make more talents and gave them more responsibilities and invited them to share in their master's happiness. He didn't tell them they could now lean back and take it easy because they had done a good job - no they were given greater tasks and greater responsibilities.
- The master praised each servant the same way because they had doubled what they had been given - even though one had made 5 more talents and the other 2 more talents.
16. In what way did the third servant attack his master's character? Why would he have done that? How did the master respond to this servant?
- In saying he was a hard man, he was really saying that his master was unrelenting, unmerciful, unkind, and lacked compassion and sensitivity.
- Why did he say that? Because he was full of fear. He was trying to get the focus off himself and blame the Master.
- The servant and the master both knew that the servant was just giving excuses. The servant knew the master wasn't ungracious or uncompassionate. The master knew the servant wanted only to pursue his selfish desires and hid the money in the ground because it got in the way of his lazy life-style. The servant didn't want to serve the Lord because he had no heart to do so. He made no effort to take advantage of the privilege he was given.
- Also, if the servant really thought the master was a hard man and expected a return, then he would have given the talent to the money exchangers so it could at least earn interest. But the servant didn't do that, and the master saw through the servant's lie. The real reason the servant didn't do anything with the talent was he didn't want to bother with it.
- The master therefore punished the one who hid his talent and thereby wasted the opportunity to make a return on his master's money. The foolish servant didn't lose the talent, he just did nothing with it - he did not try to make a return on his master's resources. The foolish servant was thrown outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (picture of hell). Then the first one received the one talent that had been taken away from the worthless servant.
- He called himself a servant, but he proved he didn't love and respect his master.
17. How can we apply this parable to ourselves?
- This parable can be applied to all who externally identify themselves with Christ's church. The way we use the resources God has given us will show if our hearts are right or not and if we truly belong to His Kingdom. The first two of the servants in the parable used their opportunity to serve the Lord, and by doing so, proved that their salvation was genuine. They were willing to spend their time for Christ's sake.
- All of our possessions, skills and talents are our trust fund from God. We are all equally responsible to manage our time, abilities and possessions so God and His kingdom will receive the greatest possible return, no matter how much God has given us or what kind of opportunities we are given.
- Christ's return will bring a time of accountability. We are responsible for the use of our own gifts, not others.
- Within the church some are serving the Lord and are prepared for His return, and some appear to be serving Him, but aren't ready for His coming. When the Lord returns, He will separate people based on the service they gave to Him (Matt. 25:31-46). All excuses set aside, false servants will lose their spiritual privileges, which will be given to true servants to enjoy throughout eternity.
- The first 2 servants were excited about their master's return because they knew they had fulfilled his master's expectations and used his resources well. In the same way, every believer should look forward to Christ's second coming. We should be excited about our opportunity to show Christ how we served Him while we waited for His return.
- In heaven we will be equal but we will have different kinds of services - which will be completely satisfying because it will fit our skill set.
- It is not a person's talent which matters; it is how he uses it that matters. God never demands abilities from us which we do not have, but he does expect that a person should use to the full the abilities which he does possess. We are not equal in talent; but we can be equal in effort. This parable tells us that whatever talent we have, little or great, we must lay it at the service of God.
- No one has a talent so small that they can do nothing with it or that it is not worthwhile to try to do something with it. Jesus here condemned the man who would not try to use it or risk it for the common good of others.
- From this parable it sounds like it is ok with Jesus to invest money to get a return on it.
- If a person has a talent and exercises it, he is progressively able to do more with it. But if he has a talent and doesn't exercise it he will lose it. Eg. Singing, playing an instrument, art, speaking, etc. So, the only way to keep a gift is to use it in the service of God and others.
18. Are you utilizing the skills, resources and opportunities God has given you? Do you take advantage of all that God offers to you for the sake of His kingdom?
19. Read Matthew 25:31-46. What will the Son of Man do when He comes?
- He will come in glory with all the angels
- He will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
- What will He be doing as He is sitting on His throne? Judging
- All the nations will gather before him and he will separate all the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
20. Who do the sheep represent and where do they go? Who do the goats represent and where do they go?
- The sheep will go on the right and the goats on the left.
- The right hand is the hand of blessing, honor and of inheritance. You inherit something because you are born into a family, and in this case it implies that they belong to the family of God, to which you belong by faith.
- The sheep would represent the righteous ones blessed by the Father (the believers) and invited to take their inheritance in the kingdom prepared for them since the creation of the world. They would go to eternal life.
- The goats would represent the ones who are the unbelievers who are cursed and told to depart from Christ into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. They would be going to eternal punishment.
21. What 2 titles is Jesus called in this section?
- Son of Man and then King.
- This is the first time Jesus calls Himself "King" and He said it privately to His disciples. He previously told a parable about a King's son. He told a parable about a King who is God the Father. But now He calls Himself King. And this is what Matthew has been trying to prove all along.
22. Why were the "sheep" blessed and the "goats" cursed?
- The sheep were the righteous ones who were blessed by the Father because they belonged to Him (received salvation) and did His will - had fed the hungry, gave the thirsty something to drink, clothed those who needed clothes, looked after the sick and visited those in prison. In doing this for others (those considered the least of the brethren) they were really doing it to Jesus. So Jesus was saying that whatever you do to meet the need of a fellow Christian, you do to Me. When you receive another believer, you open your arms to meet their needs, and you embrace them, take them in, strengthen them, encourage or help them, you accept them, you do it to Christ. Whatever you do to another believer generously without thought of gain or reward, you do to Christ.
- The goats were the ones who hadn't fed the hungry, given the thirsty something to drink, clothed those who needed clothes, looked after the sick and visited those in prison. Therefore, they hadn't done those things to Jesus. They lived selfish lives. Just like the 5 foolish virgins, and the worthless servant, they got left out/cast out because of what they didn't do.
- God will judge us according to our reaction to human need - the help we have given. It must be help in simple things like giving a hungry person food, a thirsty man water, welcoming a stranger, cheering the sick, visiting the prisoner - things that anyone can do. This has nothing to do with giving away lots of money but of giving simple help to the people we meet every day.
- The mark of salvation is proven in righteous living shown by selfless love that isn't expecting a return or to gain brownie points.
- The saved and righteous people who belong to the Father demonstrate the Father's characteristics. When Jesus came into the world He did too. If you belong to Jesus Christ there's humbleness and a giving attitude.
23. Are you watching out for those in need around you or are you living for yourself? In what ways are you doing that?