Do Matthew 24 and 25 not have any reference to the
congregation?/ Lecture Jürgen Haizmann 00 2003
The Universal Judgment on the resurrected nations.
The ten virgins and the bride.
The faithful slave and the evil slave.
The eschatological discourse of the Lord.
Table – God’s plan of salvation and its effects on Creation.
Matthew 24 and 25 have nothing to do with the congregation. We have several major discourses
by the Lord: the Sermon on the Mount, then Matthew 24 and 25 (the discourse on the Mount of Olives), and then
the discourse in the upper room, to his disciples (Jn 14, 15, 16, 17). But Mt 24 and 25 are addressed to the
people of Israel, and should not be taken as a reference to the congregation – though many have tried to do
so, thereby landing themselves in difficulties. This passage also contains, for instance, the parable of the
ten virgins, five of whom were foolish and five of whom were prudent. And we are told that the bridegroom was
in a different country, and the ten virgins were waiting for him – that is to say, the five prudent virgins
were waiting for him, not the others. And we find repeated attempts to relate this to the congregation and to
people living today. This is just plain wrong. The bridegroom is Christ, and the bridegroom has gone off with
the bride. It isn’t the bride who’s waiting, after all, but the virgins. And that is the people of Israel.
Certainly, the bridegroom comes back with the bride and celebrates the wedding. Christ will be in heaven at
that time with the raptured bride, and will then come visibly with the bride down to earth once more, after
which the wedding feast will take place. That will be the thousand years of messianic dominion. Yes, and only
those Jews who have prepared for this day, and been converted, will be involved in this. It is just out of the
question to interpret this as referring to the congregation and to the unbelievers who perhaps are just there
in the congregation or whom one is trying to evangelize. And that is what people try to do with this passage.
It is just plain wrong in this context.
(This selection has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Jürgen Haizmann, Munich, on the subject of "Eschatology".)
In saying that these two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew are taken by some commentators to
refer to the congregation, Mr Haizmann is perfectly correct. This is also the view taken here at
Immanuel.at. All the same, it is one thing just to throw out the assertion that Mt 24 and 25 are addressed to
the people of Israel, and quite another to prove the soundness of this theory in the light of definite
scriptural statements. But seeing that this is a question of the utmost importance (as it has to do, after
all, with the Second Coming of the Lord and the Rapture), we would like to take the opportunity here of
investigating the matter in greater detail.
Since we can expect that the main emphasis of our analysis will be focused on the chapter Mt 24, but Mr Haizmann bundles it together with chapter 25, we will here start from chapter 25 and then, working backwards, attempt to classify those passages which in view of their content do indeed have to do with the people of Israel. The last part of Matthew 25, namely Mt 25,31-46, includes the Judgment, where the Lord separates the sheep from the goats.
When the Son of Man comes in His glory for judgment.
Mt 25,31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels
with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 25,32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him;
and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 25,33 and
He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
25,34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
25,35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 25,36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
25,37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 25,38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
25,39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 25,40 "The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
25,41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 25,42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 25,43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’
25,44 "Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 25,45 "Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 25,46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Mt 25,31-46;
In view of Our Lord’s saying above, in Mt 25,32, that "all the nations will be gathered
before him," we can definitely state for a start that this passage does not refer to the people of Israel
but to all the nations of the world. Here some commentators want to see in this a "judgment on the living
nations" at the Second Coming of the Lord before the Millennium.
But this view can be relatively easily refuted on the basis of Scripture. In the last verse here, Mt 25,46, we are told: "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Whereas an entry into eternal life is possible before the Millennium (in the Rapture!) as well as after it, at the time of the Last Judgment, nonetheless a condemnation of the unrighteous is only possible, according to Scripture, at the end of the world, in connection with the Last Judgment and after the General Resurrection. The Lord’s parable of the wheat and the tares also lends forceful support to this view:
For while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
Mt 13,24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of
heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 13,25 "But while his men were sleeping,
his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.
13,26 "But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 13,27 "The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
13,28 "And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 13,29 "But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.
13,30 ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."‘ Mt 13,24-30;
In this parable the Lord makes it clear that the judgment on the unrighteous will only take
place at the harvest, in connection with the Last Judgment at the end of the history of the world. So no
judgment and no condemnation of the unrighteous takes place before this point, so as to avoid condemning one
of the unrighteous who possibly might still become a believer. The background to this parable is the same.
And then too, if we look at what is said in the passage quoted earlier (Mt 25,41) about the judgment on the sheep and the goats:
Mt 25,41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me,
accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels’ "
- we can see plainly from the utterance "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire" that we do not here have to do with any kind of ‘pre-condemnation’ at some point before the Millennium, but rather with the final and irrevocable sentence in the Last Judgment at the end of the world, after which the unrighteous will be cast into the eternal fire. The same conclusion may be drawn from what the Lord tells us in his parable of the fish and the net:
So it will be at the end of the world; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous.
Mt 13,47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea,
and gathering fish of every kind; 13,48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat
down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 13,49 "So it will be at
the end of the world; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous,
13,50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of
teeth. Mt 13,47-50;
All these passages prove that there will be a condemnation of the wicked and the unrighteous
only in the Universal Judgment at the end of the world, and not before. Finally the argument that the passage
referring to the Judgment in Mt 25,32 contains a reference to "all the nations" who will be gathered
together before the Lord, and so one must suppose that these are living nations, is an approach that falls
short of the mark.
The Bible tells us of a physical resurrection of all human beings at the end of the world, in the Last Judgment. After this resurrection has taken place, the resurrected dead will be – as in their lifetime – peoples of all nations of the world. A resurrected German will be a German, a resurrected American an American, a resurrected Frenchman a Frenchman, and so on. Thus at the General Resurrection and at the Last Judgment it will indeed be the case that all peoples of the world – in the resurrected body – will be gathered before the Lord.
And consequently, too, the Lord speaks in the passage referring to the Judgment (Mt 25,31-32) of "all the nations" that will be gathered before him:
All the nations will be gathered before Him.
Mt 25,31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels
with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 25,32 "All the nations will be gathered before
Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.
Rev 14,14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was
one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. 14,15 And another
angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your
sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe." 14,16 Then
He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. 14,17 And another angel
came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 14,18 Then another angel, the one
who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp
sickle, saying, "Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because
her grapes are ripe." 14,19 The angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from
the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 14,20 An the wine press
was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a
distance of two hundred miles. Rev 14,14-20;
(See also Table 13: "The judgment upon the resurrected
In addition to this, it would be quite incomprehensible if all peoples who are living on earth
on a certain day before the Millennium were to be judged, while all those who have died previously, up to the
day before – both believers and unbelievers – should only receive their sentence in the Judgment at the end of
So it is indeed the Last Judgment, after the General Resurrection at the end of the world, that is here being referred to in Mt 25,31-46, and not a judgment on the living nations, a notion which is completely foreign to Scripture. We find further confirmation of this, incidentally, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in a twofold sense:
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.
Heb 9,27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after
this comes judgment, 9,28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a
second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. Heb 9,27-28;
First of all it is stated in Heb 9,27 that it is appointed to men to die once, and
after this comes judgment. It follows from this that there cannot be any judgment on living human
beings. Only the resurrected dead can come before the judgment seat of God. It makes no difference, either,
whether they are believers or unbelievers! (Even those believers who are still alive at the time of the
Rapture must suffer death for a moment when they are transformed and put on immortality).
And then it is expressly stated here, too, that the Lord will "appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await him." So at his Second Coming he will not be judging unbelievers, but will rather come for the Raising and Rapture of those who are in Christ.
(See also Chapter 062: The Return of the Lord – part 2: "The
(See also Excursus 04: "Is there a judgment upon nations?")
In terms of the issue we are discussing here, we can therefore assert that this part of the
chapter Matthew 25 is in no way "addressed to the people of Israel" but concerns all the nations of the
world in the General Resurrection at the Universal Judgment.
If we now go further back in Mt 25, we find in Mt 25,14-30 the Lord’s parable of the talents.
He gave each according to his own ability.
Mt 25,14 "For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his
own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 25,15 "To one he gave five talents, to another, two,
and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Mt 25,14-15;
The "man about to go on a journey" is of course a reference to God. The slaves to whom he
gave the talents stand for us human beings. And now we are told that he gave to "each according to his own
ability". We human beings, then, have received certain talents from God, depending on our physical and
intellectual capacities. Here the "talent", which in the parable represents a monetary unity of the time
(1 talent was 60 minae or 6000 drachmas, corresponding to about 24,000 euros in today’s money) in reality
symbolizes a gift or a skill. (Our English word "talent", incidentally, is directly derived from this very
Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.
Mt 25,16 "Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and
traded with them, and gained five more talents. 25,17 "In the same manner the one who had received the
two talents gained two more. 25,18 "But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in
the ground and hid his master’s money.
25,19 "Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 25,20 "The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ 25,21 "His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 25,22 "Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ 25,23 "His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
25,24 "And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25,25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 25,26 "But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 25,27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 25,28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ 25,29 "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 25,30 "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 25,16-30;
As we well know, gifts come in many different shapes and forms: artistic gifts, craftsmanlike
skills, intellectual talents and so on. And if we now think this parable through to the end, we can see that
we are here confronted with God’s ‘final reckoning’ with us human beings. At the Last Judgment, at the
end of the world, we will be scrutinized to see whether we have used these talents given us by God – however
notable or relatively modest they may be – in the service of God, and so accumulated "interest".
The only "interest" that we can offer God are those people who as a result of our contribution have come to the true faith in this same God. That is the one thing that counts in God’s eyes. Anything else – like whether a person has been a Nobel prizewinner, a head of state, a Pope or the richest man in the world – means nothing at all to God. And here the rule applies that the Lord formulates for us in Lk 12,48: from everyone who has been given much, much will be required.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be required.
LK 12,47 "And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready
or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, 12,48 but the one who did not know it, and committed
deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be
required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. Lk 12,47-48;
But if we have not made use of the gifts we have been given – or, still worse, have only used
them to acquire worldly glory, riches and power – we will not be able to abide the judgment, because we have
no "interest" to show, and so will be cast into eternal damnation, as the Lord says at the end of this
It is not difficult to see that this passage too belongs with the Lord’s answer to the disciples’ question about the end of the world. Here too we find the righteous and (in the worthless slave) the unrighteous, and the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" in the "outer darkness" is an unambiguous reference to the Last Judgment. So this part of Mt 25 as well is not addressed to the people of Israel but rather to all human beings, whatever their origin.
We then come, at the beginning of this chapter (Matthew 25), to the parable of the virgins. Since this passage has been very inexactly or positively incorrectly quoted by Mr Haizmann in his commentary above, let us take a closer look at the text.
And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast.
Mt 25,1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who
took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
25,2"Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 25,3"For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 25,4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 25,5 "Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.
25,6 "But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 25,7 "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 25,8 "The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 25,9 "But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 25,10 "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.
25,11 "Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 25,12 "But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 25,13 "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Mt 25, 1-13;
(See also Discourse 66: "The kingdom of
heaven – the ten virgins")
First of all, to put Mr Haizmann right – when he says, in his above commentary,
"And we are told that the bridegroom was in a different country, and the ten
virgins were waiting for him – that is to say, the five prudent virgins were waiting for him, not the others"
- there is actually nothing in Mt 25,1-13 to suggest that the bridegroom was in a different
country. The author is patently confusing this passage with the other parable quoted earlier, the one about
the talents. There we find it stated, in Mt 25,14, "For it is just like a man about to go on a journey."
But this is actually less relevant than the assertion that the five foolish virgins did not wait for the
bridegroom. Of course they waited, like the others – up till the time of his arrival. Then indeed they were
confronted with the fact that they had too little oil in their lamps, and since the five prudent virgins did
not want to give them any of theirs, they had to go and purchase oil, and so came too late and were not
admitted to the wedding.
In Mr Haizmann’s following statement -
"the bridegroom is Christ, and the bridegroom has gone off with the bride" -
the identification of the bridegroom with Christ is perfectly correct. But that he has "gone
off with the bride" cannot be inferred from the text, not with the best will in the world. Quite the
opposite is the case – in Mt 25,6 we do not find it written, "Behold, the bridegroom and his bride!" but
rather "Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him."
And if we are familiar with oriental customs, we know that because of the hot climate weddings do not take place during the day but in the evening, which is when the bridegroom comes to the house of the bride’s parents, to find his bride there, celebrate the wedding and then take her home to his own house. The task of the virgins was to wait for the bridegroom, to go to meet him when he arrived and accompany him into the house of the bride. The bridegroom, then, has not "gone off with the bride": on the contrary, the bride was in her parents’ house and was waiting for the bridegroom’s arrival.
The scriptural proof of this is the fact that in this parable the bride is not mentioned at all. It is the bridegroom who comes alone, but then (in Mt 25,10) goes into the house with the five prudent virgins, to celebrate the wedding. If the bride had not been in the house already, he would have had some difficulty in celebrating the wedding with her. If we get the wrong idea of the situation here, we will be quite unable to understand the parable as a whole.
Mr Haizmann then goes on:
"It isn’t the bride who’s waiting, after all, but the virgins. And that is
the people of Israel. Certainly, the bridegroom comes back with the bride and celebrates the wedding. Christ
will be in heaven at that time with the raptured bride, and will then come visibly with the bride down to
earth once more, after which the wedding feast will take place. That will be the thousand years of messianic
The very first sentence here is incorrect. Of course the bride is waiting as well. She is in
the house, and she is waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom, just as are the virgins in front of the
house. And to interpret the ten virgins as a reference to the people of Israel is a complete misinterpretation
of the facts.
The attempt to do so is plainly attributable to the author’s postulating that the Rapture takes place before the Great Tribulation, so that here, at the sixth seal, before the day of the wrath of God, the congregation is no longer available to him, so he has to fall back on the Israelites.
Nor is the statement that Christ comes visibly down to earth with the bride, and that the wedding feast refers to the Millennial Kingdom, in any way an accurate understanding of this passage. This is yet again to be put down to the author’s wanting at all costs to see the congregation as the "bride". This in spite of the fact that God the Almighty definitely states in Hos 2,21 that he will betroth Israel to himself for ever.
I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion.
Hos 2,15 "Then I will give her her vineyards from there, And the valley of
Achor as a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, As in the day when she
came up from the land of Egypt. 2,16 "It will come about in that day," declares the LORD,
"That you will call Me Ishi (my husband) And will no longer call Me Baali. 2,17 "For I will
remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, So that they will be mentioned by their names no more. 2,18
"In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky And
the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land, And will make
them lie down in safety.
2,19 "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, 2,20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD. Hos 2,15-20
(See also Discourse 15: "Who is the bride of the Lamb?")
And as God can hardly be a bigamist, there is just one and only bride in question – namely,
the people of Israel. This is why in the Christian parable of the ten virgins the bride does not get a
mention, since she comes of Israel. The bride consists of the 144,000 who are sealed in the Last Days, 12,000
from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, who as we are told in Rev 14,4 "have kept themselves chaste" and "follow
the Lamb wherever He goes."
These are the ones who "have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb." This bride has not changed her identity since time immemorial. The wedding guests have changed, certainly – the congregation of the New Covenant has been substituted, as wedding guests, for the Israelites of the Old Covenant. This is also shown by another passage (Mt 22,8-10) that is relevant in this connection:
And the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
Mt 22,8 "Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those
who were invited were not worthy. 22,9 ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find
there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 22,10 "Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered
together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
22,11 "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed
in wedding clothes, 22,12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’
And the man was speechless. 22,13 "Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and
throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Mt 22, 8-13;
The apostles too – the founding fathers of the congregation – are described by the Lord himself as "wedding guests" 1)
Your disciples do not fast. – Can the attendants of the bridegroom mourn?
Mt 9,14Then the disciples of John came to Him, asking, "Why do we and the
Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" 9,15 And Jesus said to them, "The attendants
of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days
will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. Mt 9,14-15;
But we – as the congregation – think that for us to be a wedding guest is too slight an honor.
We have to be the bride. Or the woman in heaven. Or the twenty-four elders. Or the 144,000 who were sealed -
which is particularly perfidious, seeing that these 12,000 coming from each of the 12 tribes of Israel do
indeed represent the real bride. Or the Body of Christ – the only one of these identifications to be at all
(See also Discourse 49: "The elect of Mt 24,31 – Christian
congregation of the Last Days or Israelites?")
If we now want to interpret the parable of the ten virgins correctly, we must go back again to
the start of Matthew 24 and consider the three questions of the disciples. And here we can see that the third
and last question – "What will be the sign (…) of the end of the age?" – found its answer in the parables
of the talents and the Universal Judgment. So what must now follow, considering the passage in reverse order
as we are doing, is the answer to the second question – "What will be the sign of Your coming?"
It follows that in speaking of the ten virgins the Lord is here pronouncing a prophecy of the situation that will be found on his Second Coming. With reference to the question to what extent the ten virgins stand for the Jews or the Christian congregation, there are several excellent explanations available. One of these may be found in Fritz Rienecker’s "Erklärung zu Matthäus" ["Commentary on Matthew"] (Wuppertaler Studienbibel [Wuppertal Study Bible], R. Brockhaus Verlag [R. Brockhaus Publishers], Wuppertal):
"Ten is the number of completeness. The Law has Ten Commandments. We have ten
fingers on our two hands. Ten persons are the minimum quorum for an assembly of the synagogue. The tenth part
belongs to God. The harp has ten strings. Ten insults cannot be patiently borne. Ten loaves are enough for a
journey. So Jesus is here talking about the congregation in its entirety. All the faithful, when the
Lord comes, will belong either to the group of the foolish or to the group of the prudent virgins. Once more
we see the sacred Either/Or of Scripture! There isn’t any middle group."
It is indeed the case that with all ten virgins we have to do with believing Christians! We
are told, after all, at the beginning of the parable (Mt 25,1), "Then the kingdom of heaven will be
comparable to ten virgins who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom." All ten of them, then,
are compared with the kingdom of heaven. All ten of them were virgins, they all ten of them had lamps and they
all ten went out to meet the bridegroom.
So all ten must form part of the congregation! But just as in the parable of the wedding feast quoted earlier (Mt 22,12) there was one person who had been invited but did not have the right wedding clothes, and so was cast out into outer darkness, so here too the five foolish virgins were invited but did not have enough oil, and thus were refused admittance to the wedding.
At first glance these two parables of the Lord’s seem rather hard to understand, indeed they almost seem unjust. But we must look more closely at what is said here if we want to understand the meaning. As is the case with all Our Lord’s parables, in both these illustrations we find two different levels: one is the earthly reference, which characterizes the attitude of these human beings in their mundane situation, and the other is the spiritual dimension, showing their relation to God.
In the parable of the wedding feast there is a guest who is not wearing wedding clothes. We can recognize from this, on the mundane level, that this man is being deliberately rude to his hosts – the king and his son. It’s rather like an equivalent present day situation where invited guests have turned up in jeans. This is their way of showing how they esteem their host and his house. And they clearly esteem him at no better rate than a byre that has to be mucked out – the activity for which these working garments were originally intended.
On the spiritual level, we must follow that ancient principle which states that Scripture should always be interpreted on the basis of Scripture. Here we are concerned with wedding guests and wedding clothes. We find a similar situation in Revelation, in connection with the great multitude which no one could count, who stand before the throne in white robes.
These have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Rev 7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no
one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and
before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 7,10 and they cry out with
a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." 7,11 And all
the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell
on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 7,12 saying, "Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and
thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen."
7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?" 7,14 I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. Rev 7, 9-15;
As the elder explains to John, these believers stand here before the throne of God in heaven,
because they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This means that they have
availed themselves of the redeeming sacrifice of Our Lord on the cross for their sins.
As a result they are now purified and free from sin – their robes are white. And it is the same situation with the wedding clothes of the wedding guests in Mt 22,11-12: they have all received the forgiveness of their sins, through God’s grace. Only one was an obstinate sinner who has rejected this offer, and then he wants to be at the wedding just the same. So he is cast out into the darkness.
In the parable of the ten virgins, we can see – on the mundane level of interpretation – that the actual reason for the catastrophe suffered by the five foolish virgins is not mentioned at all. It is a matter of their attitude at an earlier stage, long before it comes to the crunch. Before going to the wedding they should have checked to see if they had enough oil in their lamps.
This, however, they omitted to do. Or else they noticed it, but said to themselves, "Oh well, it will turn out OK one way or another. Oil is hardly going to be a matter of life and death." In daily life these are those brothers and sisters, for example, who are always saying that they would concern themselves more with the faith and with the Word of God if they had more time. And they take the view in their own mind that they will still have time enough for an intensive study of the Bible in later life. And next day they have an automobile accident and perish.
If we now want to fathom the spiritual dimension of this parable, we must be aware of the fact that the point at issue here is that these foolish virgins did not have enough oil in their lamps. The significance of this circumstance can likewise be recognized if we consider a statement in Revelation, namely the reference to the two witnesses of God in Rev 11,3-4:
The two witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands.
Rev 11,3 "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will
prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." 11,4 These are the two olive
trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. Rev 11, 3- 4;
As their name alone shows, these two men are ones who testify – testify to God and to the
Lamb. They are "the two olive trees and the two lampstands". And with that we can recognize the
significance of the oil and the lamps in the parable of the virgins as well. What is at issue here is our
witness in the world to God and Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The five foolish virgins were Christians, admittedly, but they kept it more or less to themselves, and were ashamed to confess it openly to others – to believers and, more importantly, to unbelievers. But as the Lord says, if we are ashamed of the Lord, then he will be ashamed of us, when he comes.
For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes.
Lk 9,26 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will
be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Lk 9,26;
It is no use if, like the five virgins, we want to make a quick confession of our faith in the
Lord when we "wake up" – that is to say, when we are resurrected. It will then be too late. As with all
other concerns of human life, here too we must adopt a position on this issue while we are still alive. And in
this connection it is always interesting to observe that people are happy to speak of and about the things
Someone who loves good meals is happy to speak of food, people who love animals, flowers or cars like talking about them, and a person who has devoted himself to politics, science or art can never have enough of talking on such topics. So how is it that some brothers and sisters think that they love God, when they do not speak even a single word about him, day in or day out?
But this is also addressed to many brothers and sisters in the Lord who think that because their husband, their wife, their son, their daughter or some other person they are close to is strong in faith and active in good works for the Lord, they too are somehow automatically saved because of their relationship with these individuals, and so are relieved of the necessity of making any effort on their own part. What a disastrous mistake!
They are counting on their relatives or their friends giving them a little of their "oil" when the Lord comes. But that is not how it will be. If their relatives and friends were to act in such a way, neither of them could be saved – as is shown likewise by the five prudent and the five foolish virgins in the parable.
It is plain to see, both in the parable and in daily life, that it is superficiality and unreliability which has prevented these people from developing a deeper faith and really belonging to the Lord. Even in the congregation, then, we must expect to find people who we cannot count on. And that, too, is why the Lord will say to them at the critical moment, "I do not know you!"
In connection with the question we are discussing here, we can therefore state that this parable is definitely not addressed to the people of Israel, but to the congregation exclusively. And in his interpretation quoted above with reference to the five prudent virgins -
"and only those Jews who have prepared for this day, and been converted, will be
involved in this. It is just out of the question to interpret this as referring to the congregation" -
Mr Haizmann clearly has not recognized that every human being, of whatever nationality,
whether "Jew or Greek" (Gal 3,28), who has been converted to belief in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior
is a Christian. So according to Mr Haizmann the five prudent virgins as well – as converted Jews – would have
to be Christians, and so would form part of the congregation – with the result that we again find no Jews in
this parable. This shows very clearly who it actually is who is here "getting into difficulties."
If we now set this parable of the ten virgins alongside the statements made by the Lord about the Day of the Son of Man in Lk 17,30-37, we can see that the content of both these scriptural passages is the same:
On that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.
Lk 17,30 "It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is
revealed. 17,31 "On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must
not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 17,32
"Remember Lot’s wife. 17,33 "Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his
life will preserve it.
17,34 "I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 17,35 "There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. 17,36 ["Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left."] 17,37 And answering they said to Him, "Where, Lord?" And He said to them, "Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered." Lk 17,30-37;
Just as all ten virgins form part of the congregation, but in the end only five of them are
admitted to the wedding, here too we find two in one bed. It is not a matter of believers and
unbelievers, then, these are both believers of the congregation of the Last Days. And here too there will be
some of them who have confessed their faith in the Lord and have borne witness in the world, and others who
have been shy of confessing their faith and ashamed to testify. That is why the Lord says, to them as well,
"one will be taken and the other will be left."
(See also Discourse 12: "Must the congregation of the Last
Days seek out a place of refuge for the Rapture?")
With that we come to the next parable, the one immediately before this, at the end of Matthew 24.
The faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time.
Mt 24,45 "Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put
in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 24,46 "Blessed is that slave
whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 24,47 "Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of
all his possessions. 24,48 "But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a
long time,’ 24,49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 24,50
the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know,
24,51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 24,45-51;
This parable too is plainly to be referred to the Second Coming of the Lord. In Mt 24,46 we
are actually told explicitly, "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes."
This cannot refer to anything but the next coming, the Second Coming of the Lord. On the coming of the Lord
the evil slave will have his place assigned with the hypocrites. And these will then likewise go into
damnation in the Last Judgment at the end of the world.
This parable cannot be taken as referring to the Jews either, seeing that the Jews of all people – as will be explained below – since their rejection of the Son of God, have not any divine task laid on them of any kind whatsoever. More than that, up to the time of the return of the Lord, their Messiah, to take up his dominion in the thousand year kingdom of peace, they can have no contact any longer with their God.
So this parable is about the Christian slaves of God (elders, preachers, pastors) who give "food" (the Word of God) to the "household" (the congregation) at the proper time (before the coming of the Lord). And it is also about those other slaves who take advantage of the absence of the Lord in order to indulge their own greed for power in the congregation.
(See also Discourse 60: "When should a Christian leave a
Since plainly this parable is not addressed to the people of Israel either, we come now to the remaining part of Matthew 24, and this time we will start from the beginning. The first section, the "beginning of birth pangs" in Mt 24,4-14, tells us at once (in Mt 24,9) who this passage is referring to. Here we find:
You will be hated by all nations because of My name.
Mt 24,9 "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you
will be hated by all nations because of My name. 24,10 "At that time many will fall away and will
betray one another and hate one another. Mt 24, 9-10;
The Lord is speaking to the disciples, and so we must of course take the fact into account
that the apostles were Jewish by birth, though through faith they were the first Christians. The question
whether Christ is here addressing them as Jews or as Christians, however, can be answered with relative ease.
There are no grounds for assuming that when the Lord indicates that "you will be hated by all nations because
of my name" the name "Jesus" could have been the one intended.
Consequently it must be the name "Christ" that is meant, and so we here have to do with Christians. If we know that the Greek "Christos" corresponds to the Hebrew "Messiah", we could admittedly take this as referring to the Jews. But it would not make any sense to suppose that the Jews should be hated by all nations for the sake of their Messiah Jesus, when they had actually rejected and handed him over for execution. That would only be conceivable if suddenly the whole world were to consist of "born-again" Christians – which is completely illusory, and not just from a biblical point of view.
If we now take a look at the parallel passage in Luke, we can see the real background to this prophecy of the Lord’s:
And you will be hated by all because of My name.
Lk 24,12 "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you
and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and
governors for My name’s sake. 24,13 "It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 24,14
"So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 24,15 for I will give you
utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. 24,16 "But you
will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to
death, 24,17 and you will be hated by all because of My name. Lk 21,12-17;
In Lk 21,12 we are told, "They will lay their hands on you and will persecute you,
delivering you to the synagogues and prisons." Here we can see that the passage is referring to
Christians who will be hated by all nations in the Last Days because of their Christian faith, and will be
handed over to the Jews in their synagogues.
Clearly in this first period of the Last Days the Jews will enjoy some sort of religious supremacy, in the strength of which they can persecute, imprison and in some cases even kill the Christian faithful. What is more, we have a confirmation in Mt 24,12-13 of the fact that in terms of time these prophecies really are to be referred to the Last Days. There the Lord says:
But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
Mt 24,12 "Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow
cold. 24,13 "But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. Mt 24,12-13;
If the one who endures to the end will be saved, the events described in this section of the
Lord’s eschatological discourse cannot extend over centuries, but must take place in a manageable time frame
before this end. But this constitutes a proof that this text is referring to prophecies relating to the time
shortly before the Second Coming of the Lord, in other words the Last Days. And if these are prophecies of the
Last Days, then this concerns the Christian congregation of the Last Days, and not the people of Israel.
The turning point in the fate of Israel will only come at the end of the Last Days, before the Millennium, when their God will gather them from all over the world and they will seek him with weeping and lamentation. There is another unambiguous proof of this in Scripture. For we also find in Matthew, two chapters earlier, the Lord’s parable of the wedding feast. This tells us that a king wanted to prepare his son’s wedding, and had invited the guests:
Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner; come to the wedding feast!
Mt 22,1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 22,2 "The kingdom of
heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 22,3 "And he sent out his slaves
to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 22,4 "Again he
sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, "Behold, I have prepared my dinner;
my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast."‘
22,5 "But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 22,6
and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 22,7 "But the king was enraged, and
he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. Mt 22, 1- 7;
In this parable the king stands for God the Father, and the son is Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who are invited to the wedding are the people of Israel, and the slaves are the prophets of God, the
last of whom was John the Baptist. They had been prophesying the coming of the Messiah all along, and many of
them were killed by the kings of Israel for political reasons – as indeed was the Baptist. But as in the
parable, so it turned out in reality as well: the Israelites "paid no attention and went their way."
When he came, they rejected their Messiah and did not want to have anything to do with him. The reaction of the king was now very understandable: he gave orders to destroy those who had murdered his slaves and to set their city on fire. This was a prophecy that was to be fulfilled in the year 70 AD when Titus conquered Jerusalem.
And then we find, in this parable, that divine decision which changed the whole course of world history.
Go therefore, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.
Mt 22,8 "Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those
who were invited were not worthy. 22,9 ‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find
there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 22,10 "Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered
together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. 22,11
"But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in
wedding clothes, 22,12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And
the man was speechless. 22,13 "Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw
him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 22,14 "For
many are called, but few are chosen." Mt 22, 8-14;
Seeing that the Israelites invited were unworthy, God rejects them and sends out his slaves
(Christian ones this time) once more, to invite as many people as they can find. As in the story of Jacob and
Esau, then, the people of Israel has betrayed its birthright and voluntarily given it away. We can see now
that not only have the wedding guests changed, but also the "date of the wedding" has been postponed.
And the slaves are no longer the prophets but the apostles and the teachers of the Christian congregation into our own times, and beyond it right up to the Second Coming of the Lord. And as it was the first time, so this time too the wedding will be celebrated on the coming of the Son – his Second Coming in this case.
With reference to the topic that interests us, we can therefore state that Israel has no further part in this, God’s second plan of salvation. The turning point in the fate of Israel will come again when it is gathered by its Messiah, and becomes the chief of nations – a position of world power – in the Millennium (Jer 31,6-7). But up to that time salvific history does not relate to the people of Israel, and so neither does Mt 24,31 - the reference is purely and exclusively to the Christian congregation. This is also indicated very clearly in the last sentence of the above parable. There we find:
Mt 22,14 "For many are called, but few are chosen."
As can be inferred from the above analysis, these who are chosen here must without any shadow
of doubt be seen as the new "wedding guests", that is to say, the members of the Christian congregation,
and not as Israelites. And in that sentence which was here referred to the people of Israel by the author we
quoted at the start of this Discourse, namely Mt 24,31:
Mt 24,31"And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they
will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
- we have in the "elect" here exactly the same Greek term (eklektos, meaning chosen) as in
the earlier passage Mt 22,14. This should be a sufficient proof that in the "elect" of Mt 24,31 we are
likewise faced with the Christian congregation of the Last Days at the time of the Rapture, and not a
premature gathering of Israel.
This mistaken interpretation is clearly attributable to the fact that the Pretribulationists set the Rapture before the Great Tribulation. In accordance with this view, here at the Second Coming of the Lord, which is unmistakably and unambiguously described (both in Mt 24,29 ff and in Rev 6 and 7) as taking place "after the Tribulation of those days", the Christian congregation on earth is no longer around, because arrangements have been made for their "resurrection" already. From this point of view, then, these passages have to be interpreted as referring to Israel because there is no alternative.
And with that we come, finally, to those statements in Mt 24 which realistically speaking might for the very first time suggest the idea that the people referred to in this chapter could be Jews. In Mt 24,15 "those who are in Judea" are urged to flee to the mountains, when they see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.
When you see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.
Mt 24,14 "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole
world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. 24,15 "Therefore when you see the
abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let
the reader understand), 24,16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 24,17
"Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 24,18
"Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 24,19 "But woe to those who are
pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 24,20 "But pray that your flight will not
be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.
24,21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 24,22 "Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 24,23 "Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24,24 "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 24,25 "Behold, I have told you in advance. 24,26 "So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 24,27 "For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 24,28 "Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
24,29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 24,30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. Mt 24,14-30;
Let us first of all take a closer look at this sentence in the verse Mt 24,15, "When you see
the abomination of desolation (…) standing in the holy place." It is generally assumed that the "holy place"
is meant as a reference to the Temple in Jerusalem. Since the second Temple (built by Herod, after the first
Temple of Solomon) was destroyed by the Romans, and up to the present has not been rebuilt, this means that
for this prophecy to be fulfilled there will have to be a new – a third – Temple erected by the time to which
the prophecy refers.
Moreover, we can infer from what is said in Mt 24,16 – " (…) those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains" – that this cannot be a matter of just a handful of individuals. Judea consisted in those days of an area of about 80 by 80 kilometers, making 6,400 square kilometers, with the great city of Jerusalem almost at the center of it.
So we have to do here with a relatively large group (or ethnic group) that is living scattered over the whole land of Judea – it is these whom the passage urges to take flight when they see this abomination of desolation standing in the Temple. Seeing that it may also be recognized from Mt 24,17-20 that this flight will take place under conditions of extreme time pressure, it is inconceivable that all these people can have been personally present in the Temple in Jerusalem in order to see the abomination of desolation.
It is also highly unlikely that this information would have been spread by word of mouth over
6,000 square kilometers – there just wouldn’t be enough time for this to happen. If, then, all those who are
in Judea see this event occur at the same time, as the passage certainly suggests, there is only one
alternative left to us – that the setting up of the abomination of desolation will be broadcast on television
or by other visual media.
This shows us, on the one hand, that it was already possible two thousand years ago to foresee the broadcasting media of the future. But it also shows – and this is a very important point for the explanation that follows – that it will not be exclusively Jews who see this abomination of desolation (non-Jews, after all, are not allowed into the Temple). We can therefore assume that the setting up of the abomination of desolation in the Temple in Jerusalem is an event that will be broadcast live, and so can be received and viewed all over the world.
As we can now see, the fact that in Mt 24,16 "Judea" is mentioned should in no way lead us to see in this a confirmation of the notion that here only Jews are addressed. If the Lord Jesus – as will be demonstrated in what follows on the basis of Scripture – has absolutely no reason to address these statements as a warning to the Jews of all people, then "those who are in Judea" can only be meant to point to the Christian group in Judea, a portion, that is, of the congregation of the Last Days, who are here counseled to take speedy flight into the mountains of the country.
Luke gives us a parallel passage to this in Matthew, in which (Lk 21,20-24) we are also told the reason for this flight:
Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains (…) for there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath to this people;
Lk 21,20 "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize
that her desolation is near. 21,21 "Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains,
and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the
city; 21,22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled.
21,23 "Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days;
for there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath to this people; 21,24 and they will fall by the edge
of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the
Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. 21,25 There will be
signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in
perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 21,26 men fainting from fear
and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the
powers of the heavens will be shaken. 21,27 Then they will see the Son
of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 21,28 "But when
these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because
your redemption is drawing near." 21,29 Then He told them a parable: "Behold the
fig tree and all the trees; Lk 21,20-29;
And here it quickly becomes apparent that it is not the Jews who are to be saved by fleeing
into the mountains. Quite apart from the fact that in any case not one believing Jew of the Mosaic faith would
follow this advice of the Lord’s, as for the Jews Jesus Christ is an impostor and a blasphemer, we are told
in Lk 21,22-24 that these are "days of vengeance", and "that all things which are written will be
fulfilled" and "they will fall by the edge of the sword." So quite the reverse picture emerges – it is
actually the Jews who are here being punished by God and led captive into all the nations by their enemies,
and Jerusalem that will be trampled under foot.
(See also Table 05: "Synopsis of the Lords eschatological
One of these prophecies which the Lord refers to in this passage (Lk 21,22), when he says "that all things which are written will be fulfilled", can be found in the Old Testament in Zech 14,1-2 (and see also Isa 5,25-30; Jer 4, 5-22; etc.):
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle.
Zech 14,1 Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will
be divided among you.14,2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will
be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people
will not be cut off from the city. Zech 14, 1- 2;
If we now consider the course of our analysis hitherto, we can see the following pattern
emerging: in that part of the Last Days which follows on the "beginning of birth pangs" there will be a
worldwide persecution of Christians. All people, even a person’s nearest and dearest, will hate the
Christians, persecute them and hand them over to the Jews – now acting as the supreme religious authority, and
cooperating with the worldly powers ruling the earth. Later in the Last Days, however, God will punish this
sacrilege of the Jews and take revenge on Israel. Then the wrath of the world will once again overtake this
people, the country will be conquered by the heathen and its population led captive into all nations.
The concluding proof that Mt 24 and 25 really do have a primary reference to the congregation, and that although Jerusalem, the temple, Judea etc. are mentioned here, this does not mean that the Jews are the main people addressed in this passage – they are purely and simply involved in these events as participants – may be found in the Lord’s parable of the vineyard, also in Matthew:
The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.
Mt 21,33 "Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. 21,34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. 21,35 The vine-growers took his slaves and
beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. 21,36 Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them.
21,37 But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 21,38 But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 21,39 They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
21,40 Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?" 21,41 They said to Him, "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons." 21,42 Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; Those came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
21,43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. 21,44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust."
21,45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. 21,46 When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet. Mt 21,33-46;
In this parable too the landlord stands for God the Almighty. The vineyard is Israel, the
slaves are the prophets and the vine-growers are the religious leaders of Israel. We can see here that God has
repeatedly warned Israel through his prophets to turn away from its evil ways and to return to its God. But
Israel did not listen to the prophets: they imprisoned them or even killed them, as they did the last of the
prophets, John the Baptist.
God has now finally sent them his Son, Jesus Christ. But the scribes in the time of Jesus, together with the high priest Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, quickly realized that this was the heir – in other words, the Messiah. And they also recognized that if they were to acknowledge him as the Messiah and the Son of God, it would mean the end of their power and influence. And so they charged him on the basis of false testimony with being an impostor and blasphemer, condemned him and handed him over to the Romans to be crucified..
What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy.
Mt 26,57 Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest,
where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 26,58 But Peter was following Him at a distance
as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome.
26,59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that
they might put Him to death. 26,60 They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But
later on two came forward, 26,61 and said, "This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God
and to rebuild it in three days.’" 26,62 The high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You not
answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?" 26,63 But Jesus kept silent. And the
high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ,
the Son of God." 26,64 Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell
you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of
heaven" 26,65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! What further need
do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 26,66 what do you think?" They
answered, "He deserves death!" 26,67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their
fists; and others slapped Him, 26,68 and said, "Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit
You?" Mt 26,57-68;
The Lord also cites, in connection with this parable, Psalm 118,22-23 (Mt 21,42):
Ps 118,22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner
stone. 118,23 This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. Ps 118,22-23;
The corner stone is Jesus Christ, the builders are the religious leaders of Israel who
rejected him, and the fact that he becomes the chief corner stone means that as a result of that very death to
which the Israelites condemned him he was to become the savior of another people – namely, those Christians
who would come to believe in him. And then we find, in the following verse (Mt 21,43), the highly significant
"Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people, producing the fruit of it." "
This statement of the Lord’s likewise makes it impossible to suppose that Mt 24 and 25 could
be addressed to the people of Israel. In God’s present plan of salvation for the nations, Israel is now only
an extra, not the principal role. Scripture tells us that the kingdom (the royal rule) of God which has here
been taken from the Jews and given to another people, one that will produce the fruit of it and uphold faith
in the Son of God – namely the Christians – has three dimensions:
THE KINGDOM / ROYAL RULE OF GOD
1. The time of grace (the spiritual dimension):
God rules with his Spirit in the spirit of Christian believers (up to the Second Coming of the Lord).
2. The time of peace (the earthly dimension):
God’s Son will reign in the thousand year kingdom of peace on earth (in the Millennium).
3. Eternity (the heavenly dimension):
God rules for all eternity in heaven (God is all in all).
The remaining part of Matthew chapter 24 (Mt 24,29-56) deals with the Second Coming of the
Lord and the gathering of the elect. An analysis of what is stated here, with reference to their implications
for Jews and Christians, may be found in Discourse 38.
(See also Discourse 38: "What awaits Christians and Jews on
the Second Coming of the Lord?")
Three phases and
The day of salvation and
the time of grace
The day of vengeance and the
favorable year of the LORD
The end of the world and
the New Creation
|The fight in heaven
|The Battle of Armageddon
|The Last Fight
|Michael and his angels conquer
Satan and his angels
|Jesus Christ and his army in
heaven defeat Satan and Antichrist
|The LORD and the host of heaven
conquer Satan and his hosts
|Satan and his angels are thrown from heaven
Rev 12:9; Lk 10:18
|Satan is thrown into the
|Satan is thrown into the lake
|The resurrection of saints
after the death of the Lord
|The First Resurrection of the
|The Universal Resurrection
|The judgment: The prince of
this world has been expelled
|The judgment at the First
|The Last Judgment -
the harvest is ripe
The Day of the LORD
|The day of God’s mercy. God
becomes man in His son
|The day of God’s wrath with
plagues, earthquake and fire
Rev 8:1-13; Rev 9:1-21
|The day of the Last Judgment
will be revealed with fire
God creates all new
|The sin has been defeated: It
|The regeneration of heaven
|The passing away of heaven
The new life
|The gospel: The truth brings
salvation for the world
|The renewed heaven and the
|The new created heaven and
the new created earth
God is with them
|The kingdom of the Holy Spirit:
The time of grace – God dwells
in the spirit of the believers
|The kingdom of the Son:
The time of peace – God dwells
with men in His temple
|The kingdom of the Father:
The Eternity – men dwell with
God. No temple any more
The spirit of God
|God will give the Holy Spirit to
those who ask Him
|God pours out His Spirit on his
male and female servants
|God’s Spirit dwells in
all of them
Apart from the prophecies referring to Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple by the Roman legions under
Titus in the year 70 AD and the worldwide scattering of the people of Israel by its God in Mt 24,2, as well as
the prophecies of the days of vengeance and the reiterated scattering of Israel in the Last Days, these
statements in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, as we have here been able to demonstrate, are addressed either to
all people or to the Christians.
"Matthew 24 and 25 has nothing to do with the congregation. (…) Mt 24 and 25 are
addressed to the people of Israel, and should not be taken as a reference to the congregation"
- shows that the author has not taken the trouble to analyze the matter in any detail, and
what is more has completely ignored the fact that since their rejection of the Messiah, and in consequence of
the destruction of the Temple and so of the sacrificial altar in Jerusalem, the people of Israel no longer has
any contact with its God whatsoever.
No one comes to the Father but through Me.
Jn Jn 14,6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Jn 14, 6;
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father.
1Jn 2,23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who
confesses the Son has the Father also. 1Jn 2,23;
and all Israelites who adhere to the Mosaic faith completely reject Jesus Christ as the Son of
God and their Lord, and even as their Messiah, it follows that in the time between the death and Resurrection
of the Lord and his Second Coming they have no possibility of any kind of interaction with their God, either
through prayer or through sacrifice.
(See also Discourse 08: "The gathering of Israel: already
since 1948, or not to happen until the Last Days?")
1) Wedding guests.
Actually "attendants of the bridegroom", literally: "sons of the bridal chamber". These are the friends of the bridegroom who are invited to the wedding, and in our latitudes the most natural translation would be "witnesses to the marriage". During the wedding they acted as servants and helpers of the bridegroom, and their main responsibility was to contribute to the wedding celebration all that was within their power. – In the case of a virginal bride the wedding celebration lasted seven days, with a widow it was just three. Every day new wedding guests would show up. Only the "sons of the bridal chamber", the friends of the bridegroom, had to sit out the whole week with the married couple.