Matt 24:4-35 End Times (The Day of the Lord) - note vs. 36 "day"
4-14 Overview of entire period
15-31 Focus on The Great Tribulation period
32-35 Appendix (the generation at the beginning will survive to the end)
36-5:13 Addresses the question "When will these things be? (Matt. 24:3) Jesus' basic answer is, "No one knows". It will catch the unsaved world like a "thief in the night" (vs. 43).
There are 2 parables addressing this question.
· The Unfaithful Servant (Matt 24:45-51) - Takes place BEFORE the Tribulation Period.
· The Ten Virgins (Matt 25:1-13) - Takes place DURING the Tribulation Period.
These parables focus on being WATCHFUL and READY for the 2nd Advent of Christ. (These focus on the ARRIVAL of the 2nd Advent.)
Then there are 2 parables dealing with ACCOUNTABILITY (RESPONSIBILITIES). These focus on the JUDGMENTS which follow the 2nd Advent).
· Talents (Matt 25:14-30) - Takes place BEFORE the Tribulation Period)
· Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:31-46) - Takes place DURING the Tribulation Period
WATCHFULNESS (Matt 24:42-43) relates particularly to us who live BEFORE the coming of Day of the Lord and to whom this Day will come as unexpected.
READINESS (Matt 24:44; 25:10) is the issue in the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Matt 25:13 reminds even those who will NOT go through the Tribulation that it is crucial that they be READY (as well as WATCHFUL).
Parable of the Just and Unjust Servant (Matt. 24:45-51)
This parable begins with a question - implying that this SAME servant may not be wise and faithful. Heb. 4:12-13 speaks to being "cut in two" (vs. 51). The word of God is instrument of judgment at the BEMA.
This servant's hypocrisy consisted in pleasing himself in his behavior even though he was in a position of beling a servant of the Lord. (His behavior contradicted his given role.) He was posing as a servant of Christ but actually serving himself. This servant will be deprived of the rewards and privileges of a faithful servant.
"wseeping and gnashing of teeth" (vs. 51) is a figure of intense grief.
Being a co-ruler with Christ is a major theme of the N.T. (e.g. 2 Tim 2:12, Rev. 2:26). The person who fails to RULE in this life (vs. 45) will be DEPRIVED of that promotion in the future reign of Christ (vs. 47, 51). This parable applies to ALL who are in the SERVICE of the Assembly.
1 John 2:28 is relevant to Matt 24:48. The imminent coming of Christ should be a powerful moral and spiritual motivator. If I remove that motivation, I am in danger of sliding down in my experience (vs. 49).
Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25:1-13)
This parable mirrors the experience of those living through "The Day of the Lord". The Day of the Lord has two parts.
· In the first part (3 1/2 years) there is no reason to get excited (Matt 24:4-8).
· But Matt 24:15ff describes the second part (which, in effect, says "get going").
These things are reflected in this parable. They all believed in the Bridegroom. They were expecting His coming. The "midnight cry" corresponds to the "abomination of desolation" (Matt. 24:15). These would be very hard times (Cf. Matt 24:21-22). the 5 wise virgins are spiritually prepared = oil for this. The 5 foolish virgins are NOT. To say, "I don't know (recognize) you" [Matt 25:12] is the Bridegroom's way of saying, "You're too late to be in here." These were simply excluded from the opportunity of "performing" before the Bridegroom and His Bride. Privilege is withdrawn from the unfaithful. The "virgins" are not the bride [cf. Rev. 14:4], though they have potentially the privilege of co-reigning.
[NOTE: "know" (οἶδα ), Matt. 25:12, is a different verb than "know" (γινώσκω ), Matt. 7:23. Also the context is different.]
Spiritual readiness seems to be closedly related to prayer and sensitivity to the word. Probably the two witnesses of the Lord (Rev. 11:1-10) will be instructing believers living during these troubled times. However, (Matt 25:13) this also applies to us in some sense today (note Matt 24:43-44). The householder needs to be both alert and prepared. [Parable of the Unjust Steward has to do with watchfulness. Parable of the Ten Virgins has to do with readiness.] "Buying" (Matt 25:9) relates to the need of "expending" the necessary effort to grow in Christ. [All spiritual growth is purchased at the cost of something (Cf. Luke 14:33).] In this parable, all were watchful, but NOT all were prepared.
In summary, these first two parables focus on watchfulness and readiness whereas the next two relate to accountability. The next two parables focus on the judgment which will follow the 2nd Advent of Christ.
Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30)
In monetary terms, this is a significant responsibility and is in accord with one's own "ability" (Matt 25:15). [A talent was approximately 25 years wages.] The first two obtained equal rewards since they both maximized their resources. [We are not to worry about the ministries of others (John 21:20-22).] Note that all of these servants have the same relationship with their Master (servant responsibilities). [If the first two servants have CHRISTIAN responsibilities, why not also the third servant?]
The UNFAITHFUL servant experiences the opposite of the FAITHFUL ones. "OUter Darkness" is a figure of speech meaning exclusion from the "joy of the Master". "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is a phrase of deep remorse. The TALENT represented "opportunity (potential) for service". Matt 25:28-29 imply that the believer who comes to the Bema with something to offer his Lord will get more, whereas he who has nothing will lose even the opportunity he has.
The third servant is something like those who say today, "I don't have any gift" and decide not to do anything. But the Master says, "That's the wrong approach." The church is the "bank" for which the last servant could have invested his talent. It seems that implicit in this parable is the idea of risk.
In contrast, in the Parable of the Mina (Luke 19:11ff) each received 1 Mina [my whole self (life)]. We each are to serve God with all of our heart. Each had the same commitment from God. All Christians have an equal opportunity to serve God fully and they also have the opportunity to use their talents to the max. [In Luke 19:27, however, a fourth group ("enemies") is mentioned whose outcome is death (spiritual death, as in Rev. 20). They are slain at a different time and at a different judgment.]
We should assess the gifts (talents) God has given to us. We may not initially know the gifts God has given to us, but as we attempt to serve God may discover them (possibly from the response of others).
Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt. 25:31-46)
Note that this judgment concerns Gentiles only (Matt 25:32). "Brethren" refers to Jews who have been disciples of Jesus Christ (Cf. Matt 12:50). Many Jews will be His servants and messingers during the Great Tribulation (Cf. Matt 24:14, Rev 12:17, 7:1-8). Also, God is sifting the nation of Israel during this time (Amos 9:9-10). Apparantly, the onlyt survivors are believers. Thus the Gentile relationship to these Jewish believers (who will be at the focus of God's activity during this time) will be a very crucial matter. These did NOT take the mark of the Beast (Rev 16:2, 19:20). Therefore, a Gentile's reaction to them is a revealing reaction. this is not the final judgment, but rather an arrignment. The pre-emptive evidence is that they have no relationship with the King (based on their treatment of His brethren). The world will be basically divided into two camps at that time. To identify with such people is to take one's life in his hands. At this time, only BELIEVERS will help such Jews. At that time, Satanic activity will be paramount all over the world. This judgment includes only Gentiles alive at the return of Christ. Therefore, only BELIEVING GENTILES will enter Christ's kingdom. The only way for a believer to survive this period is NOT to allow his love to grow cold (Matt 24:12-13). These people (the Sheep or believers) not only ENTER the Kingdom, but also INHERIT the kingdom. [There will be NO unbelieving Jews left (Rom 11:26, Zech 12:10-14).] It is the purpose of God to start the kingdom with a regenerate nation. Each of the Sheep will be TRANSFORMED (given a new body) [see 1 Cor 15:50, Matt 25:46]. These Gentile believers will be instantly transformed (as we will be at His coming [1 Cor 15:51]. Given the overall teaching of the N.T., the brethren would also be given transformed bodies. Only surviving children [and last second believing Jews] will enter in regular bodies (Matt 19:14).
The Millennium is a necessary era before eternity begins. At that point, there will be a perfect government, Creation, and Satan bound. And yet still many, many rebel and fail to believe [Cf. Rev. 20:7ff]. Even in a perfect environment (like Eden) it will be demonstrated how evil man is.