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Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent, [1886], at

Matthew Chapter 25

Matthew 25:1

mat 25:1

Lamps (λαμπάδας)

Lit., torches. Probably a short, wooden stem held in the hand, with a dish at the top, in which was a piece of cloth dipped in oil or pitch.

Matthew 25:3

mat 25:3

They that were foolish (αἵτινες μωραί)

Read αἱ γὰρ μωραὶ, for the foolish. The for justifies the epithet foolish in the preceding verse.

Matthew 25:5

mat 25:5

Slumbered and slept (ἐνύσταξαν καὶ ἐκάθευδον)

Slumbered is, literally, nodded. Note the variation of tense. Nodded is aorist, denoting a transient act, the initial stage of slumber. They dropped their heads. Slept is imperfect, of continuous slumber.

Matthew 25:6

mat 25:6

There was a cry made (κραυγὴ γέγονεν)

Rev., there is a cry. The verb is in the perfect tense, representing the past event as perpetuated in the present result, and hence is rendered by the English present. At great and decisive change was the result of the cry. No more sleeping, waiting, or silence. There is a cry, and behold the awaking, the bustle, the trimming of lamps and the running to the oil-vendors.

To meet him (εἰς ἀπάντησιν)

The translation can hardly convey the meaning of the Greek phrase, which implies a custom or familiar ceremony. Come forth unto meeting.

Matthew 25:7

mat 25:7

Then all those virgins arose (τότε ἠγέρθησαν πᾶσαι αι παρθένοι ἐκεῖναι)

The Greek order is expressive. Then arose all the virgins, those former ones. Those (ἐκεῖναι) a pronoun of remoter reference, and emphatic by its position at the end of the sentence.

Trimmed (ἐκόσμησαν)

From κοσμός, order, and meaning to put in order or arrange. Tynd., prepared Trench ("Parables") quotes from Ward ("View of the Hindoos"), describing a marriage ceremony in India: "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.' All the persons employed now lighted their lamps, and ran with them in their hands to fill up their stations in the procession. Some of them had lost their lights, and were unprepared, but it was then too late to seek them, and the cavalcade moved forward."

Their lamps (ἑαυτῶν)

Lit., "their own lamps ;" emphasizing the personal preparation in contrast with the foolish, who depended for supply on their fellows.

Matthew 25:8

mat 25:8

Are gone out (σβέννυνται)

The A. V. misses the graphic force of the continuous present, denoting something in progress. They see the flame waning and flickering, and cry, Our lamps are going out! So Rev.

Matthew 25:9

mat 25:9

Not so, lest, etc. (μήποτε οὐ μὴ ἀρκέσῃ)

The Greek does not give the blunt negative of the A.V. It is a more courteous form of refusal, making the reason for refusing to supply the place of the negative. Give us of your oil, say the foolish. The wise reply, Lest perchance there be not by any means (οὐ μὴ, the double negative) enough. The Rev. gives it very happily. Peradventure there will not be enough, etc.

Matthew 25:10

mat 25:10

And while they went (ἀπερχομένων)

A present participle, and very graphic: while they are going away.

They that were ready (αἱ ἕτοιμοι)

Lit., the ready or prepared ones.

To the marriage (γάμους)

Marriage-feast, as Mat 22:2, Mat 22:3, Mat 22:4; and so Rev.

Matthew 25:11

mat 25:11

Lord, lord

Applying directly to the bridegroom, whose will was supreme, now that he had arrived at the bride's residence.

Matthew 25:14

mat 25:14

Travelling (ἀποδμηῶν)

The sense is more nearly about to travel, like our going abroad.

Matthew 25:15

mat 25:15

Several ability (ἰδίαν)

Lit., his own or peculiar capacity for business.

Matthew 25:16

mat 25:16

Straightway (εὐθέως)

Connected with the beginning of this verse, instead of with the end of Mat 25:15 : Straightway he that had received, etc., indicating promptness on the servant's part.

Traded with them (ἠργάσατο ἐν αὐτοῖς)

Lit., wrought with them. The virgins wait, the servants work.

Made (ἐποίησεν)

Not made them, as A.V. The word is used in our sense of make money. Wyc. and Tynd., won. Geneva, gained. Some read ἐκέρδησεν, gained, as in Mat 25:17.

Matthew 25:24

mat 25:24

Hard (σεκληρὸς)

Stronger than the austere (αὐστηρός) of Luk 19:21 (see there), which is sometimes used in a good sense, as this never is. It is an epithet given to a surface which is at once dry and hard.

Strawed (διεσκόρπισας)

Rev., didst scatter. Not referring to the sowing of seed, for that would be saying the same thing twice. The scattering refers to the winnowing of the loosened sheaves spread out upon the threshing-floor. "The word," as Trench observes "could scarcely be applied to the measured and orderly scattering of the sower's seed. It is rather the dispersing, making to fly in every direction." Hence used of the pursuit of a routed enemy (Luk 1:51); of the prodigal scattering his goods; making the money fly, as we say (Luk 15:13); of the wolf scattering the sheep (Mat 26:31). Wyc., spread abroad.

Matthew 25:25

mat 25:25

That is thine (τὸ σόν)

The Greek is more concise, and is better given by Rev., Lo, thou hast thine own.

Matthew 25:26

mat 25:26


With no more trouble than he expended in digging, he might have gone to the exchangers. The verse should be read interrogatively, Didst thou indeed know this of me? Thou shouldst then have acted with time promptness and care which one observes in dealing with a hard master. To omit the interrogation is to make the Lord admit that he was a hard master.

Matthew 25:27

mat 25:27

Put (βαλεῖν)

Lit., throw or fling down, as one would throw a bag of coin upon the exchanger's table.

Exchangers (τραπεζίταις)

Taking their name from the table or counter at which they sat (τράπεζα). The Jewish bankers bore precisely the same name.

Usury (τόκῳ)

A very graphic word, meaning first child-birth, and then offspring. Hence of interest, which is the produce or offspring of capital. Originally it was only what was paid for the use of money; hence usury; but it became synonymous with extortionate interest. Rev., better, with interest. The Jewish law distinguished between interest and increase. In Rome very high interest seems to have been charged in early times. Practically usury was unlimited. It soon became the custom to charge monthly interest at one per cent a month. During the early empire legal interest stood at eight per cent., but in usurious transactions it was lent at twelve, twenty-four, and even forty-eight. The Jewish bankers of Palestine and elsewhere were engaged in the same undertakings. The law of Moses denounced usury in the transactions of Hebrews with Hebrews, but permitted it in dealing with strangers (Deu 23:19, Deu 23:20; Psa 15:5).

Matthew 25:32

mat 25:32

All the nations (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη)

The whole human race; though the word is generally employed in the New Testament to denote Gentiles as distinguished from Jews.

Separate them (αὐτοὺς)

Masculine, while the word nations is neuter. Nations are regarded as gathered collectively; but in contemplating the act of separation the Lord regards the individuals.

The sheep from the goats (or kids, so Rev. in margin)

"The bald division of men into sheep and goats is, in one sense, so easy as not to be worth performing; and in another sense it is so hard as only to be possible for something with supernatural insight" (John Morley, "Voltaire"). Goats are an appropriate figure, because the goat was regarded as a comparatively worthless animal. Hence the point of the elder son's complaint in the parable of the Prodigal: Not so much as a kid (Luk 15:29). The diminutive (ἐρίφια) expresses contempt.

Matthew 25:33

mat 25:33

Goats (ἐρίφια)

Diminutive. Lit., kidlings. The sheep and goats are represented as having previously pastured together. Compare the parables of the Tares and the Net.

On the right (ἐκ δεξιῶν)

Lit., form the right side or parts. The picture to the Greek reader is that of a row, beginning at the judge's right hand.

Matthew 25:35

mat 25:35

Ye took me in (συνηγαγετέ με)

Tynd., I was harbourless and ye lodged me. The preposition and implies along with. Ye took me with you into the household circle.

Matthew 25:36

mat 25:36

Visited (ἐπεσκέψασθε)

Lit., Ye looked upon. Our word visit is from the Latin viso, to look steadfastly at, and thence to visit. We retain the original thought in the popular phrases go to see one, and to look in upon one.

Matthew 25:40

mat 25:40

The least

The word in the Greek order is emphatic: One of these my brethren, the least. So Rev., even these least.

Next: Matthew Chapter 26