It is therefore not so surprising that in Matt 25.31 the Son of Man ‘sits on the throne of his glory’ and thereafter is referred to as ‘king’ as he exercises judgement. eg Herod was an Idumean; a kid goat. Jesus’s story opens with a wealthy man entrusting his property to three of his servants before leaving on a journey. Thus this becomes a general argument of the importance of caring for the poor. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’. This is such an important Gospel passage and the reading of it on this blog spiritualises it in the extreme. Goats have a higher milk yield than sheep, and so the idea of the promised land as ‘flowing with milk and honey’ is actually most likely a reference to the benefits of a land where goats graze. We cannot all live at our level, but that is maybe a recognition that we (a general “Western” we) live too richly, use too much of the world’s resources (greed) or covet them (covetousness). The judgements in Amos 1-2 are another clear example. 3 When [] the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take extra [] olive oil [] with them. Matthew 25:1-13 is the parable of the Ten Virgins. E.g. I do not think we should be troubled by the injustices and sufferings in the world. 11. A rich man delegates the management of his wealth to his servants, much as investors in today’s markets do. (Acts 11:13-17 NIV-GK). When we look at Matt 25, we see that the word translated ‘goat’ is actually the word eriphos, the male term for a baby goat—also used ironically by the elder brother in Luke 15.29 (‘you never even gave me a kid’). 25 “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids[a] who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Make the most charitable construal of the views of others and seek to learn from their perspectives. Along similar lines, I think, was through listening to a sermon (not on this passage) by Sinclair Ferguson in which the following jumped out to me in strong emphasis, and in sharp contrast to knowing him, (those who call him Lord)which was deeply challenging : it’s whether we are known by Jesus – he knows those who belong to him, chosen. Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took … This is the astonishing interpretation which Jesus says “the King” will give to them of their own actions here below. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. 1.2 God would distinguish among the sheep. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25. I think you may be missing some things here and Peter Reiss has made the same unguarded assumptions about poverty and piety. Let’s celebrate together!’, 24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’, 40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[f] you were doing it to me!’, 41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. Could it be suggested to have a look at Ian’s linked Twitter feed, where someone said that it is only in the wealthy West that this could be read in the usual way, strong rich Christians helping the poor, not even considering that they are the poor, hungry. Because of the context and because the punishment for t… An obvious place is the one mentioned in the article: Joel 3, where judgement is pronounced on the ‘nations’ for their treatment of the people (or ‘nation’) of Israel. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’, 44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’, 45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’, 46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”. In the disguise of these poor members of Mine I came soliciting your pity, but ye shut up your bowels of compassion from Me: I asked relief, but ye had none to give Me. The typical person in the developing world – whatever you might say of global inequalities – is far far richer than my ancestors. Hi Matthew. [] 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise3 When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. One of Jesus’ most significant parables regarding work is set in the context of investments (Matt. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’. Man does not need high-tech weapons to be brutal to one another. 34,) that through patient continuance in well-doing have long waited for immortality; you have been the true companions of my tribulation and cross, and, with unwearied faithfulness, in obedience to my holy will, valiantly endured to the end, looking to me, the Author of your precious faith, for the recompense of reward that I have promised to them that love me, and faint not: O, enter ye into the joy of your Lord, and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. If you have valued this post, you can make a single or repeat donation through PayPal: Comments policy: Good comments that engage with the content of the post, and share in respectful debate, can add real value. ______. (cf Matt 18:30). Put together, all this data points to the ‘least of these’ not being the poor in general, but being Jesus’ own followers. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Augustine’s towering influence is well-known. I wonder if 25. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. Read Matthew 10.19 and you will see that the persecution and arrest of Christian witnesses and missionaries is clearly envisaged. But then you build on this and say Jesus was effectively talking about the disciples’ message – with nothing at all in the text to support that. First step – Jesus could have made it clear he meant his disciples but didn’t, so that’s the first logical step which is not clear from the text – although I grant it as a possibility. But according to Peter, that acceptance of those who do what is right is also linked to their receptivity to the gospel message, for Peter explained in Acts 11: He [Cornelius] told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ A friend emailed me back in February and quoted Matthew 25v32 as saying Jesus will separate Nation from Nation in the end times. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’. As Craig Keener notes (Commentary p 602), in rabbinical parables, the figure of the king is nearly always God, and it is God’s role to exercise judgement over the nations. Similarly, who are those “in prison” in this passage? It’s a lot earlier, of course, but the Ammonites’ abuse of David’s emissaries in 2 Samuel 10 reflects the same understanding. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’, 10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Lord! The picture presented is of multiple nations/peoples in one large mass which God then separates into 2 groups, based on how they treated Jesus’ followers and therefore by extension Jesus Himself. Thus Jesus shows he identifies so closely with his disciples that what people do to them, they do to him. This is a parallel to Matthew 10.11-13 in the first mission of the disciples. Notice that the key qualifier in Matthew 10.42 is “monon eis onoma mathetou”. “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. 3. You have decided the structure of the gospel, and then you say that this text must mean what you need it to mean to make your structure work? Take back therefore your own coldness, your own contemptuous distance: Ye bid Me away from your presence, and now I bid you from Mine–Depart from Me, ye cursed!”, Although on a Bible interpretation level this is important, on a pastoral teaching level I would be reluctant to lean too heavily on the distinction as the fact is, whether it’s brethren or the poor, a) we should be giving to both, just motivated by different verses A major difficulty with the popular reading is presented by the shape of the narrative, and its emotive effect. These are my reflections on your provoking blog post. Don't view debate as a conflict to win; address the argument rather than tackling the person. Many thanks for this, it is appreciated. ‘When Christ asks us to feed to hungry and reach out to the least, the last and the lost I take him at his word.’ So do I. In other words, if you follow Jesus you will be like him, and this could involve being without home, a wandering stranger, reliant on the charity and provision of others. What I am pointing out is that he is not saying that here. Matthew 25 New English Translation (NET Bible) The Parable of the Ten Virgins. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Rather I would argue that the brothers of Jesus are now seen to include the poor and needy from across the world – we are challenged to open our eyes wider. Could I try to give my understanding of your point 3, and tell me if I’m right? At least one aspect of this parable can be known with absolute certainty. Poverty is neither holy nor unholy in itself and it does not, of itself, convey the status of being “my brothers and sisters”. When the NIV translates ‘he will separate the people one from another’, that is interpretation. No one is suggesting that the poor etc, should not be helped , the poor “will always be with you” , certainly not Ian Paul, nor DA Carson; there are others scriptures for that, but it is as Ian says about scripture being squeezed out of shape. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! The first few verses of Acts 10 which shows God’s view of people’s heart and actions: At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. Reading the text carefully in its cultural context actually drives us back to read the text itself more carefully. Instead of seeing that these are parables about salvation, they see them as parables about rewards or loss of rewards. The children of Israel do not. The most influential theologian of this period is obviously Aquinas, and he also comes down clearly identifiying “the least” as Christ’s disciples (p. 180). On the other hand: do you think that the only ways someone could end up in prison was if they were either bona fide criminals or persecuted Christian missionaries? I mean Ian, not Paul. I wonder if 25. At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’. “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’, “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. I’ll send a link if you are interested. It comes as the conclusion to this long section of Jesus’ teaching about The End, answering the second part of the disciples’ two-part question about the fall of the temple, and the ‘sign of your coming and the end of the age’ in Matt 24.3. If four hundred years ago, the queen decided that the fact that her subjects did not live life of such luxury of herself and her lords, and this was a sign of greed and gluttony, and this inspired her to redistribute the wealth. The issue isn’t general philanthropy but recognition that the person in need is a disciple of Christ and thus ‘in statu Christi’, as verse 40 indicates. 25 “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Adjunct Professor, Fuller Theological Seminary; Associate Minister, St Nic's, Nottingham; Managing Editor, Grove Books; member of General Synod. I have no doubts that being known as a follower of Jesus was (and still is in much of the world) a lot tougher than I know from my own experience now, but I am not necessarily persuaded that it would have been a universal enough experience for Jesus to use this list of deprivations as a sort of synonym for being a disciple. And, comparatively speaking, it was no small sum of money. It’s about receptivity to Christian messengers in ch.10. And a more expansive reading of this passage is not just modern. But in the gospels, Jesus never draws a hard line between these groups and his disciples in general, so focussing on ‘missionaries’ is to make the reference too narrow. “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 15 He gave five bags of silver[b] to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. This and the following parable are in Matthew alone. For example when Saul (Paul) persecutes Christians. 6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Enter into the joy of your master.” [Matthew 25:21] I, I like this. But it is very well known, and is most commonly interpreted as an encouragement for followers of Jesus to care for the poor—which it isn’t. After the sheep(Ewes) have been separated from the kid-goats we still have female goats left. Jesus knew that only the father had all the details, but he wanted his friends to have just a glimpse and so he started to tell many parables to try and give them some ideas. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. Thus France comments (p 959): The debate about the criterion of judgment, however, theologically important as it is, should not be allowed to distract the reader from what is surely the main thrust of this passage as the climax of the discourse on judgment, its portrayal of the ultimate sovereignty of the Son of Man as the universal judge. The broad reason allows one to be pick who to help and picking in a socially approved manner. Thanks for this Ian, you have developed my thinking and helped for my preach this Sunday. 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? However I am not convinced: this is the culmination of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew, the final section of the final section and there is a grand inclusio back to the blessed poor of the Beatitudes at the very beginning of the first teaching section. The point is that it is JESUS IDENTIFICATION with these people who have or have not helped that is critical – and that is a constant feature of biblical religion. (Acts 10:34–35 NIV-GK). Jesus is making some truly astonishing claims here. When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’. If Jesus wanted to say that people would be according to the way they respond to Him through His people, why doesn’t He say that (as in 10:40)? A few discussion points (if you have to pick, please look at point 3): 1) I’m tempted to be looking for parallels between Jesus’ parables of the ten virgins and the ten talents and this account. In the previous parable of the household there is the same thing. Therefore we can infer that in the sheep and the goats passage, people are also saved through receiving the (gospel) message about Jesus. The issue isn’t general philanthropy but recognition that the person in need is a disciple of Christ and thus ‘in statu Christi’, as verse 40 indicates. It is also in Bonaventure, who “clearly identifies ‘the least’ as Christians” (p. 175). 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The bridegroom is Jesus Christ, and this parable describes His return. Let’s celebrate together! First, let’s look at the parable after the Ten Virgins, which is found in Matthew 25:14-28. However, it is very much present in the Hebrew Scriptures. Criminals being punished – or the unjust victims of persecution? If you mean we should equate ‘reward’ with salvation simply because of an act of kindness, Im not so sure. I think I picked it up from France’s shorter commentary. Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents is one of a number of parables Jesus spoke at the end of His earthly ministry. ‘I also use Matthew Henry and Wesley commentaries both 18th century but they do see helping the poor as being at the outworking of faith.’ Er, so do I! Thus, “Augustine comes down clearly on the side of those who hold a restrictive viewpoint” (p. 71). “While “loath to challenge” the usual interpretation because it is always important for those who know and follow the living God, to show, compassion, service, self abnegation” The bible has a great deal to say about caring for the poor…” Many thanks! And we know of the awful treatment meted out to prisoners of war in Japan during WW2. This gives rise to some challenging lessons from this better reading of the narrative: If you enjoyed this, do share it on social media (Facebook or Twitter) using the buttons on the left. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. And there is a major help that our neighbours need that isn’t mentioned herein the Matthew passage. And the language here challenges the notion that entrance into the kingdom is a ‘reward’ which has been merited by a life of good works. I think there are a number of occasions in the synoptic gospels where Jesus promises reward in heaven or threatens condemnation because of how people have treated the poor and needy – and on those occasions he doesn’t give any indication he’s just talking about his ‘brethren’ or Christians (Matt 19:16-22/Mark 10: 17-31/ Luke 18:18–30; Luke 16: 19f, Luke 14: 12-14; Mark 12:38-40/Luke 20:46-7; Matt 6: 4). 1 Keener:The IVP Background Commentary, New Testament, That would be a sign of theological gymnastics. Like my page on Facebook. But further east, where the grazing land is scrubbier, then mixed herds are essential, since the goats can graze the harder ground. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. This lesson is perfect for children’s church, Sunday School, or anytime you need a short kids sermon. That seems to contradict Jesus’ words elsewhere, not to mention Paul. But as a complement to that, we need to note that the judgement doesn’t just take place on the grounds of whether people like us and help us, or not. Should we want to be 'left behind' in Matt 24? When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. However, even granting this possibility, it still seems to me that Jesus is basing final reward and condemnation based on acts of kindness to the disciples. The departing into everlasting fire – if we are to take it literally – is obviously a personal punishment. This is particularly clear in Matt 12.49, when Jesus is rather radically proposing that his new family are the disciples gathered around him (which of course includes women). Matthew 25:1. So that which applies in the earlier chapters is being applied, consistently again at the end, only now Jesus speaking as the Son of Man, King. Ive always taken those who do the helping to be fellow Christians, helping other believers in need, ie behaving as God expects us to behave by loving one another, often at personal cost. I think there is also a proper debate about how we read “who are the poor?” in the Bible as there is a shift in post-exilic times to claim that the believers are the poor of God, but we might want to question whether this is a suitable lens to read other texts through. “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. First, he is the ‘Son of Man’, Jesus’ favourite self-description in the gospels, and a term primarily taken from Dan 7.13, where it refers to the vulnerable corporate figure of Israel, exalted to God in the face of the trampling beasts of the earlier part of the vision. (Am I simply doing that because the accounts fall in the same artificial chapter division? What do you think Jesus means when he says ‘If anyone gives you a cup of cold water because you are my disciples, he shall not lose his reward’? For you do not know the day or hour of my return. 2.1. But then Matthew has warned the religious that dubious characters are entering the Kingdom before them so it shouldn’t really be a surprise! Something to consider?? Matt 25.37 parallels this thought and its very language. Interestingly, many commentators think that Jesus’ teaching in Matt 25 has been influenced by Ezekiel 34:17–22, a passage which mentions the action of separation as judgement, and includes a reference to both sheep and goats: As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. 39 also envisages the persecution of Christians (cf. I think Jesus’ own actions suggest that the alien, the orphan and the widow trajectory of the torah is how Jesus speaks of the poor. 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